Trump and Duterte in 2017. Photo: Rolex Dela Pena/AFP via Getty Images

The Philippines has announced that it no longer plans to terminate a major military pact with the U.S. — at least for now.

Why it matters: The Visiting Forces Agreement — which allows U.S. and Philippine troops to conduct joint exercises and share intelligence — will resume at least for the next six months amid China's continued militarization in the South China Sea.

Driving the news: The Philippines' Foreign Affairs department on Monday informed the U.S. that "in light of political and other developments in the region, the termination of the agreement is hereby suspended."

  • The U.S. Embassy welcomed the move: "Our long-standing alliance has benefited both countries, and we look forward to continued close security and defense cooperation with the Philippines."

Flashback: Manila sent a notice of termination to Washington in February following the cancellation of a U.S. visa for Ronald dela Rosa, a close aid to President Rodrigo Duterte seen as the architect of Duterte's deadly drug war.

  • The announcement that the VFA would be terminated led to concerns about U.S. deterrence capacity in the critical South China Sea, where the territorial claims of China, the Philippines and four other countries overlap.

The big picture: The Philippines is America's oldest military ally in Asia, but the relationship has deteriorated under Duterte, who openly prefers to partner with China.

Go deeper: America's oldest military ally in Asia turns toward China

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Health and Human Services Secretary Alex Azar during a June briefing in Washington, D.C. Photo: Joshua Roberts/Getty Images

Health and Human Services Secretary Alex Azar announced Tuesday night he will lead a delegation to Taiwan "in the coming days."

Why it matters: It's the highest-level visit by a U.S. cabinet official to Taiwan since 1979. Azar is also the first U.S. Cabinet member to visit the island state in six years. The visit has angered China, which views Taiwan as part of its territory. Chinese officials accused the U.S. Wednesday of "endangering peace" with the visit, AFP reports.

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Photo: Anwar Amro/AFP via Getty Images

The death toll from Tuesday's explosion in Beirut, Lebanon has now surpassed 130, including at least one U.S. citizen, amid a search for answers as to why a huge store of ammonium nitrate was left unsecured near the city's port for nearly seven years.

What we know: The government says around 5,000 people are injured. Defense Secretary Mark Esper said current indications are that the massive explosion was accidental, despite President Trump's puzzling claim on Tuesday evening that it appeared to be a bomb attack.