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REPLACEMENT STILL UNKNOWN

US envoy Sung Kim ends tour of duty in PH, bids farewell

/ 05:35 AM July 21, 2019

BAGUIO CITY, Benguet, Philippines — US Ambassador to the Philippines Sung Kim bade farewell at a gathering here on Friday, saying he has reached the end of his three-year tour of duty in the country, which began in 2016.

Kim did not name his replacement but said the new ambassador would continue the task of deepening the US economic, social and historic ties with the Philippines.

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He hosted a post-American Independence Day celebration at the US ambassador’s residence in Camp John Hay here.

Stronger alliance

Kim did not respond directly when asked how he felt about President Rodrigo Duterte’s history of anti-American tirades in the course of his Philippine assignment.

He instead said his efforts and his successor’s future role in the country were to “keep the alliance stronger and stronger.”

Before Kim assumed his Manila post in December 2016, President Duterte had publicly denounced former US President Barack Obama for questioning his war on drugs. He also said he liked Obama’s successor, Donald Trump, more.

“I am sure that Washington understands the importance of the relationship and will send someone very capable of managing the relationship,” Kim said, adding that “the connection between our two peoples is strong and transcends politics.”

Kim has been nominated for a post in Indonesia but he said this would depend on the US Senate foreign relations committee, which will choose his successor.

Last week, the US Embassy denied a report that Mina Chang, the deputy assistant secretary for the state department’s Bureau of Conflict and Stabilization Operations, would replace Kim.

Kim said the United States is home to about 4 million Filipinos while 300,000 Americans reside or work in the country.

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Noting there was “more to do to expand the relationship,” Kim said the Philippines and the United States would pursue more training exercises to combat terrorism and widen economic ties.

As of May, the country’s exports to the United States reached $1.08 billion, up by 9.8 percent, from $878.26 million in the same period last year.

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