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Philippines-US military exercises to be reduced next year

U.S. Admiral Harry Harris, right, U.S. Commander of the U.S.Pacific Command, and Philippine Armed Forces Chief Gen. Ricardo Visaya emerge together following their two annual Mutual Defense Board meeting at Camp Aguinaldo in suburban Quezon city, northeast of Manila, Philippines Tuesday, Nov. 22, 2016. The annual meeting came at a time when Philippine President Rodrigo Duterte ordered the scaling down joint military exercises and other activities between the two countries. AP Photo/Bullit Marquez
MANILA, Philippines — Armed Forces chief of staff Gen. Ricardo Visaya said five military exercises with the United States, including at least two major naval drills, will be scrapped next year at the direction of President Rodrigo Duterte.
 
Visaya told reporters Wednesday that US officials respected the Philippines' proposal to reduce the number of drills to 258, or five less than this year's exercises.
 
On Tuesday, the two allies held a meeting of their Mutual Defense Board and Security Engagement Board co-chaired by Visaya and Adm. Harry Harris Jr., head of the US Pacific Command.
 
Visaya said the scrapped drills include an Amphibious Landing Exercise and Cooperation Afloat Readiness and Training, both major naval exercises that include territorial defense training.
 
He said exercises will be focused on humanitarian assistance, disaster relief and counterterrorism.
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