PRESIDENT Rodrigo Duterte asked Thursday the United States (US) military to leave temporarily Mindanao so he could be able to pursue peace talks with the Moro people.

Speaking before the soldiers at Camp Tecson in San Miguel, Bulacan, Duterte clarified that he was “not against the Americans” and was merely appealing to them to exit Mindanao for now as he had to talk to the Moro people in pursuit of peace.

“I said [US special forces should just leave] Mindanao. I never said go out. One day, I will decide that you should leave temporarily to give us (me and the Moro community) space to talk,” the President said.

Duterte made the clarification, following his prior statement that the US troops “have to go” and leave Mindanao.

On Monday, the President said that the American soldiers who are currently in the strife-torn region must abandon the place for fears that their security would be at risk.

Duterte stressed that the situation in Mindanao would be "more aggravated" if they would continue staying there.

"The [US] special forces, they have to go. They have to go. In Mindanao, there are many white [Americans] there. They have to go," Duterte said. (Sunnex)