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Duterte invited to visit America

President Rodrigo Roa Duterte (PRESIDENTIAL PHOTO)

President Rodrigo Roa Duterte (PRESIDENTIAL PHOTO)

The much-anticipated meeting between two controversial world leaders is finally forthcoming.

United States President Donald Trump has invited President Duterte to visit the White House to advance the improving alliance between the two countries.

Trump extended his invitation to Duterte during a “friendly” phone conversation that also tackled the North Korean nuclear conflict, his visit to Manila this November, and the Philippine government’s campaign against illegal drugs, according to a statement from the White House.

The US leader called up Duterte last Saturday night on the sidelines the Association Southeast Asian Nations leaders’ summit in Manila.

“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,” the Office of the US Press Secretary said in a statement.

“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,” it added.

The White House did not say when the two leaders would meet in Washington D.C. Malacañang confirmed the White House invitation but has not yet announced if Duterte has agreed to visit the US.

Apart from the planned visits to each other’s countries, Trump and Duterte discussed “concerns” of the ASEAN on regional security, particularly the threat posed by North Korea, according to the White House.

Trump likewise expressed his understanding about the Duterte government’s war on illegal drugs. “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 White House said.

Presidential spokesman Ernesto Abella said the US leader has affirmed his commitment to the alliance between the Philippines and the United States. He said the US leader likewise expressed interest “in developing a warm, working relationship with President Duterte.”

“The discussion that transpired between the Presidents was warm, with President Trump expressing his understanding and appreciation of the challenges facing the Philippine President, especially on the matter of dangerous drugs,” Abella said.

He also confirmed that the two leaders also discussed matters of regional geo-political concerns, especially on the situation in North Korea. “Details understandably are not forthcoming,” he said. (Genalyn D. Kabiling)