The Philippines will keep having large-scale combat exercises with the United States after President Rodrigo Duterte retracted his decision to terminate a key defense pact in a move that may antagonize an increasingly belligerent China. Duterte’s decision was announced Friday by Defense Secretary Delfin Lorenzana in a joint news conference with visiting U.S. counterpart Lloyd Austin in Manila. It was a step back from the Philippine leader’s stunning vow early in his term to distance himself from Washington as he tried to rebuild frayed ties with China over years of territorial rifts in the South China Sea.

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