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MANILA, Philippines — America’s top diplomat for Asia said Monday that Philippine President Rodrigo Duterte’s controversial remarks and a “real climate of uncertainty” about his government’s intentions have sparked distress in the U.S. and other countries. Daniel Russel, the assistant secretary of state for East Asian and Pacific affairs, said he also relayed to Philippine Foreign Secretary Perfecto Yasay Jr. international concern over continuing killings under Duterte’s crackdown against illegal drugs. In a major walk-around, Duterte sparked diplomatic alarm when he announced during a state visit to Beijing last week his “separation” with the United States. Upon returning home the day after his stunning remarks, Duterte said he did not mean he was severing diplomatic ties with Washington but only wanted to end a foreign policy that’s overly oriented toward the U.S.

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