Apr 19, 2018 17:10 UTC
  • Japan, Australia to take part in Philippine-US military drills

Thousands of American, Japanese, Australian and Filipino troops are scheduled to take part in joint military drills in the Philippines.

The Philippines hosts annual joint military drills code-named "Balikatan" (shoulder-to-shoulder) with the US, but Japanese and Australian forces have joined them for the first time this year.

The drills were scheduled to start on May 7 in multiple locations across the island of Luzon and last a fortnight.

The participants will rehearse their responses to situations caused by natural disasters and extremist attacks. The rehearsals will include exercises in mutual defense, counter-terrorism, humanitarian assistance and disaster relief.

British forces have been invited to observe the drills.

Joint military exercises were scaled back last year in response to Philippine President Rodrigo Duterte's opposition to a military defense pact between Manila and the US.

Duterte has announced opposition to the presence of foreign troops, particularly Americans, in his country.

During a visit to China in October 2016, Duterte announced his country's "separation from the US” in military and economic relations.

Instead, Duterte has been forging relations with Russia and China.