PRESIDENT Rodrigo Duterte personally interacted with US President Donald Trump for the first time on Friday during an Asia-Pacific Economic Cooperation event in Vietnam.
The two leaders met on the sidelines of the APEC Economic Leaders' Meeting Retreat, which was attended by other APEC leaders in Da Nang, Vietnam.
Special Assistant to the President Bong Go sent reporters a photo of the moment. It showed Trump, with a frown on his face, speaking to the Philippine leader, who was wearing a slight smile.
According to Malacañang, Trump told Duterte, "See you tomorrow." He was likely referring to his visit to Manila starting November 12 to attend the Association of Southeast Asian Nations Summit.
The APEC gathering was hosted by Vietnam President Trần Đại Quang. Also present were Russian President Vladimir Putin, Chinese President Xi Jinping, Japanese Prime Minister Shinzo Abe, and Indonesian President Joko Widodo.
The meeting of the two leaders has been much awaited, given their headline-grabbing personalities and leadership styles. Prior to their meeting, the two had spoken on the phone.
Their first phone conversation was after Trump's victory in the US presidential elections last year. Duterte spoke with him on the phone to congratulate him.
On Saturday morning Duterte, Russian President Vladimir Putin, and Trump were gathered in one room at the Asia-Pacific Economic Cooperation leaders' meeting in Da Nang, Vietnam.
A photo shared on Twitter by Special Assistant to the President Bong Go shows Duterte seated beside Putin, while Trump was seated at far center, third from right.
Earlier, Duterte and other world leaders, including Trump, Chinese President Xi Jinping, Canadian Prime Minister Justin Trudeau and Mexican President Enrique Pena Nieto were seen arriving at the leaders' meeting venue.
Duterte is expected to be back in Manila later last night for his bilateral talks with Trump here for the ASEAN.
Trump hails PH
President Duterte missed the praises US President Donald Trump on Friday heaped on the Philippines for being a regional leader in closing the gender gap between men and women
Reports said that Duterte was not around to hear those good words.
Trump said the World Economic Forum had consistently ranked the Philippines at the top of Asian countries in closing the gender gap.
“The Philippines has emerged as a proud nation of strong and devout families,” Trump said in his speech at the APEC (Asia-Pacific Economic Cooperation) CEO Summit.
“For 11 consecutive years, the World Economic Forum has ranked the Philippines first among Asian countries in closing the gender gap and embracing women leaders in business and in politics,” he added.
Duterte however was not present because he was on his way to a bilateral meeting.
The President attended the Apec Business Advisory Council meeting and the informal dialogue between APEAC and Association of Southeast Asian Nations (ASEAN) but Trump was not in these two events.
Duterte personally thanked on Friday Russian President Vladimir Putin for the Russian military equipment donated to the Philippines.
Duterte expressed his gratitude during his bilateral meeting with Putin on the sidelines of the APEC Economic Leaders' Meeting in Da Nang, Vietnam.
"I would like to convey to you the gratitude of the Filipino people for your timely assistance, especially the trucks and the arms that you sent. Because we have to replenish the supplies, we were getting low," he said.
"According to my soldiers, the arms that you sent were very accurate," he added.
It was Duterte's third bilateral talks with Putin. The first ones were in Peru and in Russia.
Russia on October 25 turned over 5,000 AK-74M Kalashnikov assault rifles, 20 trucks, one million units of 1943-type cartridges with steel core bullets, and 5,000 units of steel to the Philippines.
Enhanced Russia-PH ties
The Russian leader wants concrete steps to further enhance ties between Manila and Moscow such as building a light rail line in Baguio City and a repair facility for Russian ships and training Filipino troops
Presidential spokesperson Harry Roque said Putin told President Duterte during their bilateral meeting on Friday that Russian companies wanted to do business in the country and also sell civilian aircraft, helicopters, and at least 10 high-speed boats.
Roque said that in addition to increasing bilateral trade, Russian companies also would like to invest in energy, particularly nuclear power generation.
Russian transportation companies were interested in building a metro line between Baguio and La Trinidad, Roque also said.
Putin proposed the construction of a repair facility for Russian ships that visit the country, but he did not say if it would exclusively service Russian Navy vessels, Roque said.
“He also invited the Philippine military to train in Russia and (said) that the Russians will establish or appoint a military attaché in Manila,” Roque said.
Russia was “very interested” in importing fish, fruit and other seafood from the Philippines while selling grain and meat to Filipinos, he said.