Wednesday, April 12, 2006

Rape case has difficult effect on Philippine-US relations: US ambassador

MANILA, (Xinhua) -- Last year's rape case involving four U.S. Marines had a "difficult" and "emotional" effect on Philippine-U.S. relations, U.S. ambassador Kristie Kenney said here Tuesday.

The U.S. government remains focused on seeing that justice is served, and working with the Philippine authorities to make sure the U.S. lives up to its obligations, Kenney said in an interview with Philippine radio reporters.

"The situation with the Marines is a difficult one and an emotional one and I understand that," she said.

Meanwhile, the ambassador said that the bilateral relationship between the two countries is still strong and special.

However, Kenney contested calls from Philippine public and lawmakers for the abolishment of the Visiting Forces Agreement, which governs the conduct of visiting U.S. soldiers in joint military exercises.

"From my perspective I'm very happy that we have that kind of agreement that allows us to very quickly respond when the Philippine people need us to do so," she said, adding that a hospital ship of the U.S. Navy will arrive in May to give free medical treatment to indigent Filipinos.

Four U.S. Marines remain in the Philippines though under U.S. embassy's custody, after they were accused and charged for raping a Filipina in Subic last November. The first formal court trial has been delayed for many times and the case itself was transferred last month from one local court to another.

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