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U.S., Philippines sign deal on jurisdiction

Philippine and U.S. officials on Tuesday signed an agreement on which country will try American soldiers accused of committing crimes on Philippine territory, paving the way for the eventual resumption of joint exercises between the two.

U.S. Ambassador Thomas Hubbard said he expected the exercises, suspended for about two years, to resume as soon as the Philippine Senate ratified the accord.Under the agreement, American courts will have jurisdiction over U.S. soldiers who commit crimes in the Philippines against American citizens or property.

The Philippines will have jurisdiction over all other offenses committed by American servicemen except when the offense was committed in the line of duty.

The agreement, however, allows the Philippines to challenge the duty status of an offending U.S. soldier and such a challenge is to be resolved by mutual consultation.