The issue on human rights and alleged cases of extrajudicial killings were not discussed during the bilateral meeting of President Duterte and United States President Donald Trump yesterday.
According to presidential spokesperson Harry Roque, the two Presidents had a frank conversation for at least 40 minutes where the two leaders reaffirmed the very close ties between the Philippines and the US.
“President Trump specifically said that he has always been a friend of the Duterte administration unlike the previous administrations of the United States,” Roque said.
“But he stressed that he can be counted upon as a friend of the Duterte administration,” he added.
Roque said that the issue on human rights was not discussed like Duterte predicted Sunday. “The issue of human rights did not arise, it was not brought up. It was President Duterte who discussed with US President Trump the drug menace in the Philippines,” Roque said.
“The US President appeared sympathetic and did not have any official position on the matter. He was merely nodding his head, indicating that he understood the domestic problem that we face on drugs,” he added.
Duterte thanked Trump and the American people for the assistance they have extended, particularly on communications during the Marawi City conflict.
Aside from the close Philippines-US ties and the issue on drugs, Duterte and Trump also discussed trade between the two countries.
“The Philippines expressed a view that they’re appreciative of the general system of preference and suggested that free trade agreement also be concluded between the US and the Philippines,” Roque said.
The Philippines has sought an FTA with the United States following those with Vietnam and Japan who have not always been allies of America.
“President Trump said they will study the matter,” Roque said.
The United States is the Philippines’ third largest trading partner after China and Japan, according to Office of the United States Trade Representative. (Argyll Cyrus B. Geducos)
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