US to work on Duterte-Trump meeting in Washington

United States Ambassador to the Philippines Sung Kim on Tuesday said Washington will push for the next meeting of President Rodrigo R. Duterte and US President Donald Trump.

This, seeing that both countries have “strong interest” in facilitating Duterte’s visit to US.

“As you know, President Trump has already invited President Duterte to visit Washington but obviously there had been lots of important development here in the Philippines and I think it’s a question of scheduling as to when President Duterte would make a visit to the US,” he said in an interview on Tuesday.

“I think there is strong interest in both sides in facilitating the visit to Washington so we’ll continue to work at it,” he added.

US Secretary of State Mike Pompeo himself relayed hopes for the two leaders’ meeting when he met Foreign Affairs Secretary Alan Peter Cayetano on June 22.

Trump and Duterte met in Manila on the sidelines of the Association of Southeast Asian Nations Summit last November. During the meeting, the two discussed issues on drug menace, terrorism, and trade issues.

Following the meeting, Kim, at the 4th of July Reception in Makati City, said the two leaders have forged a “very strong relationship.”

“The two gentlemen have shared much in common including on the importance of rule of law even as the Philippines continues to pursue the serious challenge of illegal drugs in the Philippines,” he said.

“We understand that the drug issue is a huge challenge for the Philippines, we understand that President Duterte is so focused on that big problem and we will continue to work with the Philippine government,” the envoy added.

US has been providing Manila support in areas such as demand reduction and drug rehabilitation efforts.

Among others, US has also established law enforcement cooperation with the Philippine National Police and other agencies in the country.

“I think our robust law enforcement cooperation will continue and it is important both sides agree on the importance of rule of law and respect for human rights as we proceed with efforts to deal with the drug problem,” Kim said. PNA