United States Ambassador to the Philippines Sung Kim has vowed to improve the “strong alliance” between the two countries that have been strained under President Rodrigo Duterte’s administration.
Kim, who arrived in Manila on Thursday, presented his credentials to Duterte on Tuesday.
In a news briefing, Kim told reporters that he and Duterte had “a lengthy, substantive discussion” on issues of shared interest.
“I am grateful for the time that President Duterte afforded me today. It is an incredible honor for me to be in the Philippines to have this opportunity to contribute to one of America’s most enduring partnerships,” the envoy said.
“At the heart of that partnership is the deep bond between the peoples of our two countries. There is indeed tremendous ‘kalooban’, the extraordinary spirit, warmth and strength in our relationship. In addition to our close friendship and, of course, our strong alliance, we have strong economic ties that are long-standing and extensive and enthusiastic about the potential to grow our two-way economic partnership,” he added.
Kim said he is looking forward to working closely with the Philippine government “to expand our relationship and to engage in many areas of mutual interest.”
“This important relationship is, of course, based on mutual respect. I am confident that our mutual respect combined with the close ties and shared history and values will ensure stability in our relationship over the long term and the years and decades to come,” he said.
Kim’s designation as new ambassador to the Philippines marks a turning point in Philippines-US relations under
the tough-talking Duterte, who did not hide his anger at the previous US envoy, Philip Goldberg.
The relationship between the two countries is expected to warm up once US President-elect Donald Trump takes office on January 20, 2017.
Duterte called Trump on Friday and the two had “very engaging, animated conversation” about their countries’ relations.
Presidential Spokesman Ernesto Abella said this is a sign of “improving” Philippine-US ties.