Philippines says must wait for guidelines before interpreting Duterte speech

Philippines President Rodrigo Duterte (L) speaks during a meeting with Chinese Premier Li Keqiang at the Great Hall of the People in Beijing, China, October 20, 2016. REUTERS/ Wu Hong/ Pool

MANILA (Reuters) - The Philippines urged the public to wait for guidelines before interpreting President Rodrigo Duterte’s announcement in Beijing that Manila will separate from the United States, a government official said on Friday.

“There is no rush for us to interpret the speech of the president as we have to wait for guidelines that would be coming from him, from the Department of Foreign Affairs as soon as they come back,” said Maria Banaag, assistant secretary at the presidential communications office.

Duterte announced his “separation” from the United States on Thursday, declaring he had realigned with China as the two agreed to resolve their South China Sea dispute through talks.

Duterte made his comments in Beijing, where he was visiting with at least 200 business people to pave the way for what he calls a new commercial alliance as relations with longtime ally Washington deteriorate.

Reporting by Karen Lema; Editing by Nick Macfie