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​Secretary of State John Kerry and the new US ambassador to the Philippines, Sung Kim, affirmed the relationship between the two countries on Thursday, despite a recent series of erratic and troubling declarations from Philippine President Rodrigo Duterte. Speaking at the swearing-in ceremony for Kim, Kerry said, “the United States continues to place a high value on the close ties that exist between our countries. We continue to recognize our ironclad commitment to the sovereignty, independence, and security of the Philippines. And we will continue to cooperate in efforts to maintain peace and stability, and to promote shared prosperity in the Asia-Pacific region.” Kim called the Philippines, “our oldest ally in Asia and one of our most special friends anywhere.” He added, “The US and the Philippines are, and will continue to be, close friends, partners, and allies.”