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Business deals

Australia shipbuilder closes in on $600m Philippine defense deal

Manila resumes financial aid talks with countries that backed UN drug war probe

 Austal's proposed vessel for the Philippine Navy (Illustration courtesy of Austal)

MANILA -- Australian shipbuilder Austal's proposed $600 million sale of patrol vessels to the Philippine Navy has cleared a major hurdle after Manila agreed to resume loan negotiations with countries that backed a United Nations probe of President Rodrigo Duterte's drug war.

Executive Secretary Salvador Medialdea lifted the suspension of negotiations for loans and grants from 18 countries that endorsed a resolution in July calling for an investigation of Duterte's anti-narcotics crackdown, which has killed thousands of suspects and alarmed human rights activists. The suspension was lifted in a memo to government agencies on Feb. 27 and made public on Wednesday.

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