No timetable for U.S. troops' stay in Philippines, RP defense secretary

15:06, July 31, 2010      

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Philippine Defense Secretary Voltaire Gazmin said Saturday there is no fixed timetable for the stay of U.S. troops during his visit with military officials in the Mindanao region.

American troops in the country would remain unless Al-Qaeda linked militants in the restive south neutralize, military source said on Saturday.

Gazmin however assured American soldiers would not participate in Filipino soldiers/ operation against Abu Sayyaf militants on Mindanao Island.

"We will also review the Visiting Forces Agreement, (VFA)" Gazmin said.

The VFA has paved the way for thousands of U.S. troops to train Filipino soldiers in counterterrorism.

U.S. Undersecretary of State for Political Affairs William Burns told reporters earlier that their troops would remain to work not only on anti-terror campaign but work closely with peace and development.

The United States has since 2002 had hundreds of troops stationed in Mindanao to help train local troops as they fight Islamic militants who are blamed for the country's worst terrorist attacks.

About 500 U.S. Special Forces troops train Filipino soldiers in Mindanao to combat militants from the Al-Qaeda-linked Abu Sayyaf group, which the United States lists as a terrorist organization.

Source: Xinhua


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