Trump calls Duterte, affirms PH-US alliance, November visit
In a phone call to President Rodrigo Duterte Saturday evening, US President Donald Trump reaffirmed America’s longtime alliance with the Philippines and mentioned his upcoming visit to Manila in November, Malacañang said Sunday.
Trump’s phone call came at the close of the 30th Association of Southeast Asian Nations (Asean) summit in Manila, where regional leaders led by Duterte as chair evaded the issue of militarization and reclamation in the South China Sea, and the Philippines’ legal victory over Beijing in the United Nations arbitral ruling.
“President Donald Trump called President Duterte yesterday evening. The ambit of the conversation between the two leaders includes the expression of commitment of U.S. President Trump to the PH-US alliance and his interest in developing a warm, working relationship with President Duterte,” Presidential Spokesperson Ernesto Abella said in a statement.
“President Trump likewise mentioned that he looks forward to his visit to the Philippines in November for the East Asia Summit,” Abella added.
In a statement, the White House Office of the Press Secretary described the conversation between Trump and Duterte as “friendly,” saying the two leaders discussed regional security issues and the Philippine government’s war on drugs, among other matters.
Trump also invited Duterte to visit the White House this year.
“President Donald J. Trump spoke today with President Rodrigo Duterte of the Philippines. It was a very friendly conversation, in which the two leaders discussed the concerns of the Association of Southeast Asian Nations (Asean) regarding regional security, including the threat posed by North Korea,” the statement read.
“They also discussed the fact that the Philippine government is fighting very hard to rid its country of drugs, a scourge that affects many countries throughout the world,” the statement read.
“President Trump enjoyed the conversation and said that he is looking forward to visiting the Philippines in November to participate in the East Asia Summit and the US-Asean Summit,” the White House said.
It added that “President Trump also invited President Duterte to visit the White House to discuss the importance of the United States-Philippines Alliance, which is now heading in a very positive direction.”
Ambassador Marciano Paynor, Asean’s national organizing council director-general for operations, earlier said that Trump “had already indicated that he was coming in November” in a phone conversation with Duterte. Trump also invited Duterte to visit the White House this year.
US Vice President Mike Pence, after meeting with Asean officials in Jakarta this month, also confirmed Trump’s upcoming visit to the Philippines.
Duterte has repeatedly praised Trump and likened himself to the celebrity mogul turned President in his public speeches, calling him a “realist” and a “pragmatic thinker.” Duterte has been critical of the US government under former President Barack Obama for its criticisms against his war on drugs. CBB/rga