Trump after phone call with Duterte: I look forward to meeting him

  • US President said he is looking forward to meeting PH counterpart
  • He also said PH remains important to him “strategically and militarily”
  • Duterte warm to White House invite, said tight schedule preventing commitment

MANILA, Philippines – In the aftermath of their weekend phone call, US President Donald Trump said he was very much looking forward meeting President Rodrigo Duterte should the latter accept his invitation to the White House.

“I look forward to meeting him. If he comes to the White House that’s fine,” he told Bloomberg News.

Trump reiterated that the Philippines remains a very important country to him.

“The Philippines is very important to me strategically and militarily,” he said.

According to the White House, Trump enjoyed his conversation with Duterte over regional security concerns, the North Korean threat, and the Philippines’ ongoing campaign against drugs. It also revealed that Trump will himself visit the country in November for the East Asia and the US-ASEAN summit.

“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.  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 U.S.-ASEAN Summit.  President Trump also invited President Duterte to the White House to discuss the importance of the United States-Philippines alliance, which is now heading in a very positive direction.”

For his part, Duterte said he cannot commit to any White House visit yet due to a tight schedule.

“I’m tied up. I cannot make any definite promise,” he said.