US president confirms PH visit, invites Duterte to Washington
US President Donald Trump reaffirmed America’s longtime alliance with the Philippines and confirmed his upcoming visit to the country in November, Malacañang said yesterday.
The US leader also extended his invitation to Duterte to come visit him in Washington.
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 US 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.
Duterte earlier said in a press conference that he would urge Trump to go easy on North Korea, after Washington raised alarm over Pyongyang's nuclear tests that have rattled allies Japan and South Korea.
The phone call came ahead of Duterte's visit to a Chinese warship in Sasa Port, Davao City yesterday.
"President Trump likewise mentioned that he looks forward to his visit to the Philippines in November for the East Asia Summit (EAS)," Abella said.
The East Asia Summit includes the 10 ASEAN member states, and dialogue partners US, Australia, China, India, Japan, New Zealand, Russia, and South Korea. It will be held in November, after the 31st ASEAN Summit.
Abella said the two leaders again discussed Duterte's war on drugs during the phone call.
He said the US leader expressed "his understanding and appreciation of the challenges facing the Philippine President, especially on the matter of dangerous drugs."
Aside from the summit in November, the two leaders talked about "regional geo-political concerns," including the situation in the Korean Peninsula, which was also mentioned in the 30th ASEAN Chairman's Statement.
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 in November.
Trump had 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.
Earlier, Duterte said that the US should show restraint and not play into the hands of North Korean leader Kim Jong Un, because he “wants to end the world.”
“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,” Duterte said.
In an earlier press conference, Duterte said he would urge Trump to show restraint on North Korea after its latest missile test rattled allies Japan and South Korea.
"There seems to be two countries playing with their toys and those toys are not really to entertain," he told a news conference after the ASEAN summit in Manila, referring to Washington and Pyongyang.
"You know that they are playing with somebody who relishes letting go of missiles and everything. I would not want to go into his (Kim's) mind because I really do not know what's inside but he's putting mother earth, the planet to an edge."
Saturday's phone conversation between Duterte and Trump was the second time after the former called the latter last December to congratulate him on his November election victory.