President Duterte’s US Trip, Meeting with President Trump in the Works, Palace confirms

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US PRESIDENT DONALD TRUMP greets Philippine Ambassador to US Jose Manuel Romualdez at the Oval Office in Washington. Romualdez and his counterpart, US Ambassador Sung Kim (right, being greeted by Philippines Today Editor in Chief and Professor Alfred Gabot) have confirmed reports that a visit by Philippine President Rodrigo Duterte to Washington and another meeting with President Trump are being worked out.

 

By CLAIRE MORALES TRUE
 

WASHINGTON/MANILA (PhlTodayUSA) – Now, it can be confirmed that a visit of President Rodrigo Duterte to the United States and another meeting with US President Donald Trump in Washington are being out.

And this time, Duterte has a reaction to the proposed trip — he hinted he wants to go but the long 12 to 13 hour flight concerns him, saying “it would kill him.”

Duterte actually had flown to the Americas when he attended the Asia Pacific Economic Cooperation (APEC) summit early in his term on November 19-20, 2016. Instead to taking a flight via Los Angeles to Lima which takes a total of  22 hours, the President flew via Auckland, New Zealand which took him 14 hours and another 14 hours to Lima, Peru. He complained later of the long haul which he said made him sick.

Malacañang has confirmed Philippine Ambassador to Washington Jose Manuel Romualdez has been convincing President Rodrigo Duterte to accept the invitation of President Donald Trump to visit the United States.

It was US Ambassador to the Philippines Sung Kim who first revealed that Washington is pushing for the next meeting of President  Duterte and US President Trump.
“As you know, President Trump has already invited President Duterte to visit Washington but obviously there had been lots of important development here in the Philippines and I think it’s a question of scheduling as to when President Duterte would make a visit to the US,” Kim at the July 4 celebration in Makati City.
“I think there is strong interest in both sides in facilitating the visit to Washington so we’ll continue to work at it,” he added.
Secretary of State Mike Pompeo himself relayed hopes for the two leaders’ meeting when he met Foreign Affairs Secretary Alan Peter Cayetano on June 22.
Trump and Duterte met in Manila on the sidelines of the Association of Southeast Asian Nations Summit last November. During the meeting, the two discussed issues on drug menace, terrorism, and trade issues.
Following the meeting, Kim said the two leaders have forged a “very strong relationship.”
“The two gentlemen have shared much in common including on the importance of rule of law even as the Philippines continues to pursue the serious challenge of illegal drugs in the Philippines,” he said.
“We understand that the drug issue is a huge challenge for the Philippines, we understand that President Duterte is so focused on that big problem and we will continue to work with the Philippine government,” the envoy added.

 

Presidential Spokesperson Harry Roque said Ambassador Romualdez  confirmed the discussion on the US trip of President Duterte  at the Philippine Airlines (PAL) event attended by Duterte last July 17 at the Terminal 2 of the Ninoy Aquino International Airport.

“On the trip to the US, I will confirm that I had a short conversation with Romualdez during the PAL event and he has said that he will not give up on convincing the President to accept the pending invitation of President Trump for President Duterte to visit the United States, but I have no other details than that,” Roque said in Ipil, Zamboanga.

Last Wednesday, Duterte said his trip to the US upon the invitation of his “friend” Trump “has something to do with the schedule” and “not because of anybody or any place there”.

“If it could only be a regional flight, where I can go fly-in and fly-out in the evening, that would be very easy. But the long haul of 13, 14 hours would kill me,” Duterte said in in Davao City.

Duterte has said he has no plans of going to the US “in this lifetime” after he experienced discrimination twice.

As a college student, the President said he was denied a visa to visit a girlfriend in the US, with the consul asking him during the application process of the possibility that he would marry his partner in America so he could stay there.

When he was congressman, Duterte recalled being stopped by a US immigration officer for interrogation at the LA International Airport because his travel authority was missing.

The President has also repeatedly slammed the US for supposedly meddling in his administration’s war against drugs and its refusal to acknowledge the atrocities it committed against Filipinos when the Philippines was still an American colony.

Meanwhile, Roque refused to give details on Duterte’s upcoming visit to Israel tentatively in September.

“On Israel, I was going to take the position that I will defer to the Department of Foreign Affairs and I think you know why, the trip itself can be controversial,” Roque said.

Aside from US and Israel, Kuwait is also on the list of the possible next foreign trips of the President.

Last Wednesday, Special Assistant to the President (SAP) Christopher Bong Go said the President might pursue his plan to visit Kuwait in October, depending on the availability of Kuwait’s Emir Shaikh Sabah Al Ahmad Al Jaber Al Sabah. (PhlTodayUSA)