Obama sees Duterte hitting it off with Trump
LIMA, Peru — President Barack Obama believes a friendlier relationship is in store for his successor-in-waiting Donald Trump and President Rodrigo Duterte due to their similar personalities, according to Foreign Secretary Perfecto Yasay.
The two presidents never got to talk in the concluded Asia-Pacific Economic Cooperation (Apec) summit here, after a jet-lagged Mr. Duterte skipped the gala dinner and the customary family photo event of world leaders.
But Yasay, who stood in for Mr. Duterte in both events, said the US president told him during a conversation in one of the side meetings that he was optimistic about the future of the US-Philippines bilateral ties under Trump’s helm.
It was Mr. Duterte’s first appearance at the Apec and the last one of Obama, who will relinquish the presidency to Trump in January.
“Well, he told me he is expecting a better and stronger relationship between the Philippines and the United States under the new administration of President-elect Trump, as they seem to have the same kind of temperament,” the country’s top diplomat recalled in a DZRH radio interview.
Yasay said he only replied: “Well, I hope so.”
“I did not mention to him that whatever trouble afflicting us as a result of our existing relationship is more fundamental than the personalities involved,” he said.
“We want to convey the message to America that our relationship can be stronger if there will be a reevaluation and readjustments of our relationship where this time, dependency will not be allowed, right?” he said.
“That is more fundamental,” Yasay said.
The official said Obama did not have a message for Mr. Duterte. “But he was really saying something that was to my mind is forward-looking, as he sees that the relationship is strained only with the leaders involved,” he said.
With Trump, however, he sees more optimism, Yasay said.
In a briefing on Sunday evening (early Monday morning in Manila), Mr. Duterte said he had no opportunity to interact with Obama, who was attending his last international conference abroad.
“No. I was not looking around,” he said, adding that he was poring through one of the Apec reading materials when Obama walked in.
Neither the Philippine side nor the US side requested a bilateral meeting between the two leaders, showing how the relationship between the treaty allies had cooled since Mr. Duterte assumed office in June.
By contrast, bilateral ties have never been closer with China and Russia. Mr. Duterte had formal talks with President Xi Jinping of China and President Vladimir Putin of Russia on Saturday (Sunday in Manila).
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