Palace: Trump visit shows strained US-PH relations on the mend
The announced visit to the Philippines by US President Donald Trump shows that relations between Manila and Washington, strained by President Rodrigo Duterte’s war on drugs and his frequent anti-US tirades, are on the mend, Malacañang said on Saturday.
The White House on Friday said that Trump’s first tour of Asia as president on Nov. 3-14 would take him to China, South Korea, Japan, Vietnam and the Philippines, where he would be attending the Association of Southeast Asian Nations (Asean) summit.
“President Trump’s visit underscores the improving Philippine-US ties and President Duterte is looking forward to welcoming the US President in Manila,” said presidential spokesperson Ernesto Abella.
It wasn’t immediately clear whether Mr. Duterte and Trump would hold bilateral talks on the sidelines of the Asean summit. The Philippines is preparing to give visiting dignitaries a warm welcome, Abella said.
“As host country, we hope to make the event productive and pleasant to our foreign guests. We will let them experience our world-famous Filipino hospitality to make sure they would have good memories of their stay in the Philippines,” he said.
The Philippines is the Asean chair this year, the 50th founding anniversary of the 10-member regional bloc.
Malacañang’s upbeat sentiments on Manila-Washington ties came after the President said he would seek more “friendly” relations with the United States and, upon the advise by the Department of Foreign Affairs, he would “temper” his language and “avoid cursing” whenever he spoke about the country’s main security ally.
In a speech on Thursday, Mr. Duterte said the Americans had provided “a lot” of help not just during World War II but also in the current offensives against Islamic State-inspired terrorists in Marawi City. Any past conflict with one of the country’s former colonizers was “water under the bridge,” he said.
The President had many times ranted at the United States, at one point calling former US President Barack Obama a “son of a whore” in reaction to Obama’s criticism of his brutal war on drugs.
During a visit to Beijing last October, Mr. Duterte announced his “separation from the United States,” stating he was realigning with China and Russia instead.
He explained that, at the time, he was angry at Obama for criticizing his centerpiece anti-illegal drugs campaign, which had left thousands dead.
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