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PH awaits Trump visit, meeting with Duterte

PRESIDENT Duterte appeared to have enjoyed his visit on board the Russian Navy’s guided missile cruiser “Varyag” last Friday as it was docked at the Manila South Harbor. Accompanied by new Secretary of Foreign Affairs Enrique Manalo and National Security Adviser Hermogenes Esperon Jr., he was toured around the ship and its various missile systems. At the end of the visit, the Russian officials gamely joined him in posing for pictures with the President’s usual clenched-fist salute.

It was a most friendly visit, a fitting preparation for the President’s visit to Moscow next month. A defense cooperation agreement is expected to be signed at this visit on May 25, providing for partnership in mutually beneficial activities, such as training and exchange of information. There is no expectation of a military alliance. “There’s a long way to go, but it can come later,” Esperon said.

President Duterte has long expressed his desire to develop closer relations with Russia and China, even as he criticized former United State President Barack Obama for his comments on Duterte’s anti-drugs campaign with its attendant killings. New US President Donald Trump was not as critical in a telephone conversation and Duterte appears to appreciate his attitude.

Last week, the US announced that President Trump will be coming to Manila this November to attend the ASEAN Leaders Summit and the East Asia Summit to be hosted by the Philippines. The East Asia Summit will bring together the presidents and prime ministers of 18 countries – the 10 ASEAN nations, plus the US, Russia, China, India, Japan, Australia, New Zealand, and South Korea.

Global issues are expected to dominate this 18-nation meeting, including conflicts involving the Islamic State in the Middle East and Europe and the continuing refugee crisis resulting from that conflict. The Philippines will be playing a key role as host of this meeting of 18 countries.

President Duterte will be meeting President Trump face to face for the first time at this summit this November and their bilateral talks may well determine the future – in the next few years at least – of Philippine-American relations. He and President Trump – two leaders newly elected to their positions of leadership – may reach an understanding in their face-to-face meetings that will have far-reaching effects on our country’s view of the world as a whole and on Philippine-American relations in particular.

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