Trump to visit PH; Duterte invited to White House

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(L-R) U.S. President Donald Trump and Philipine President Rodrigo Duterte (Photo: en.prothom-alo.com)

By Macon Araneta | FilAm Star Correspondent

Malacañang revealed that US President Donald Trump confirmed in a phone conversation with President Rodrigo Duterte that he would visit the Philippines as part of his commitment to the Philippine-US alliance.

“The ambit of the conversation between the two leaders includes the expression of commitment of US President Trump to the PH-US alliance and his interest in developing a warm, working relationship with President Duterte,” said Presidential spokesperson Ernesto Abella on Trump’s phone conversation with Duterte on the evening of April 29 after the Philippines hosted the 30th ASEAN Summit.

In a statement, Abella said Trump likewise mentioned that he looks forward to his visit to the Philippines in November for the East Asia Summit (EAS).

“Furthermore, the discussion that transpired between the presidents was warm, with President Trump expressing his understanding and appreciation of the challenges facing the Philippine President, especially on the matter of dangerous drugs,” said Abella.

“Other topics included regional geo-political concerns, especially the situation with North Korea but details understandably are not forthcoming,” Abella said.

“Moreover, there was a mention of an invitation from President Trump to President Rodrigo Duterte to visit the White House,” he added.

Trump invited Duterte to the White House “to discuss the importance of the United States-Philippines alliance, which is now heading in a very positive direction,” the US Office of the Press Secretary said in a statement.

The White House gave no details of when the leaders would meet in Washington but said Trump looked forward to visiting the Philippines in November as part of two summits with other Asian nations.

Before Trump took office, Duterte had hurled tirades against Washington for criticizing the deaths of thousands of drug suspects in his war on illicit drugs.

Ties between the security allies improved under Trump, who has not openly criticized Duterte’s controversial campaign so far.

The US State Department however recently described the drug-related killings in the Philippines as “troubling.” In its statement, the White House said the two leaders touched on the issue during their conversation.

Trump and Duterte “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 White House said.

Malacañang meanwhile said Trump expressed “understanding and appreciation” of the challenges faced by Duterte, especially on the matter of dangerous drugs.

The White House and Malcañang both added that the two leaders discussed the concerns of Southeast Asian Nations regarding regional security, including the threat posed by North Korea.

Duterte earlier said he would urge Trump to show restraint on North Korea after its latest missile test rattled allies Japan and South Korea.

Saturday’s conversation between Duterte and Trump was the second time they talked over the phone. Last December, the Philippine President called Trump to congratulate the latter on his election victory.

The East Asia Summit includes the 10 ASEAN member states, US, Australia, China, India, Japan, New Zealand, Russia, and South Korea. It will be held in November, after the 31st ASEAN Summit.

Duterte said he would urge the US leader to exercise restraint and not play into the hands of North Korean leader Kim Jong Un.

“I will just communicate to (Trump), just let him play with his, do not play into his hands. The guy (Kim) simply wants to end the world, that is why he is very happy. He is always smiling. But he really wants to finish everything.”

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