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US cancels Philippine military drills due to coronavirus

Annual Balikatan exercise meant to demonstrate two countries' defense alliance

The U.S. Navy guided-missile destroyer USS McCampbell participates in an exercise in the Philippine Sea in September 2016.    © Reuters

MANILA -- The U.S. on Friday cancelled a major military exercise with the Philippines as both countries grapple with the coronavirus pandemic.

The Balikatan ("shoulder to shoulder") exercise was planned to be conducted from May 4-15 in various Philippine locations, and was touted to demonstrate the strength of Manila and Washington's military alliance despite the looming termination of their Visiting Forces Agreement in August.

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