Secretary of State John Kerry expressed confidence that the US relationship with the Philippines can survive recent turbulence as he swore in a new US ambassador to the Southeast Asian nation. Kerry administered the oath of office to Sung Kim, formerly the chief US envoy for North Korea policy, in a ceremony at the State Department. Kim, a career diplomat, takes up his new position in turbulent times. Outspoken Philippine President Rodrigo Duterte, who took office in June after winning a presidential election, has been antagonistic to Washington over human rights criticisms. Duterte has forged closer ties with China — a blow to the Obama administration effort to forge deeper ties with Asia. He has declared his desire to scale back military engagements with the US and has told President Barack Obama to “go to hell.” But Kerry remained confident about the future of the 70-year alliance between the US and its former colony, “notwithstanding a difference here or there about one thing or another.” Kerry met with Duterte in Manila in July and said Thursday he hopes to visit again before he ends his terms as secretary of state.
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