After U.S. President Donald Trump’s historic summit with North Korean leader Kim Jong Un last month, could a meeting with President Rodrigo Duterte be next?
United States Ambassador to the Philippines Sung Kim this week said the U.S. government is set on facilitating Duterte’s visit to Washington.
“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 said in an interview on Tuesday, July 3, as reported by People’s Television.
“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.
Following the election of Trump in 2016, Duterte congratulated the businessman for winning the presidency.
In April of last year, Trump extended Duterte an invitation to the White House after “a very friendly conversation” discussing the Philippines’ issues with illegal drugs.
The two leaders first met in person in Manila during the Association of Southeast Asian Nations Summit last November. In the conversation, which Trump deemed “very successful,” they reportedly discussed drugs, terrorism, and trade.
On Tuesday, Kim noted that the two have forged a “very strong relationship” due to their similar opinions on upholding the rule of law.
“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.
The U.S. envoy added that the U.S. will “continue to work with the Philippine government” as they understand that “the drug issue is a huge challenge for the Philippines” and “President Duterte is so focused on that big problem.”
“I think our robust law enforcement cooperation will continue and it is important both sides agree on the importance of rule of law and respect for human rights as we proceed with efforts to deal with the drug problem,” Kim said.
The U.S. has been providing Manila support in demand reduction and drug rehabilitation efforts.
It was also one of the first nations to assist the Philippines when ISIS-inspired local terrorists seized Marawi City last year.
“We worked together to defeat the terrorist attack on Marawi City and now we’re supporting the government’s efforts to rebuild Marawi,” he said.
In addition to this, Kim noted the “very strong” economic partnership between the two countries.
“We welcome the Philippines’ interest in doing a free trade agreement with the U.S. and of course, President Trump had a wonderful visit to the Philippines in November, so I think the relationship is in great shape and I think the future of the relationship is very bright,” he said. (AJPress)