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Duterte skips Japan trip

Malacañang said yesterday that President Duterte would not go to Tokyo, Japan next week to focus on the armed conflict in Marawi City, Lanao del Sur.

Presidential spokesperson Ernesto Abella, in a statement, thanked the Japanese government for understanding the situation. “We thank the Japanese government and organizers for their consideration, and both sides mutually agreed that a visit to Japan could be rescheduled in the future,” Abella said.

According to the Palace official, the lines of communication between the Department of Foreign Affairs and its Japanese counterpart remain open and active in this regard.

He also said that Duterte still hopes to meet Prime Minister Shinzo Abe whom the President has always admired and respected. “The Philippines highly values its close friendship and deep bilateral relations with Japan. President Duterte hopes to meet Prime Minister Shinzo Abe whom he has fond admiration and respect especially when the Japanese leader visited him in his hometown in Davao,” he said.

Abe visited Duterte in his house in Davao City last January in a rare diplomatic gesture aimed at strengthening relations between their two nations.

Reports of Duterte’s trip cancellation first surfaced Sunday. Duterte was set to give a speech at the 23rd Nikkei International Conference on the Future of Asia in Tokyo on June 5 and 6. (Argyll Cyrus B. Geducos)