US President-elect Donald Trump has invited President Rodrigo Duterte to the White House next year.
The announcement was made by Duterte’s special assistant, Christopher “Bong” Go, following a phone conversation Friday night between the two leaders.
Duterte, in return, invited Trump to visit the Philippines next year to attend the summit of the Association of Southeast Asian Nations.
The Philippine president phoned Trump to congratulate the Republican billionaire for winning the US presidential election over Democratic rival Hillary Clinton.
Duterte’s cordial demeanor toward Trump was in contrast with his expletive-laden tirades toward outgoing US President Barack Obama, who had criticized the Philippines’ bloody war on drugs.
The phone call came a day after the arrival of the new US ambassador to Manila, Korean-American diplomat Sung Kim, who said he was excited to improve ties between the two historical allies.
Last month, Duterte indicated he might stop quarreling with the US following the election of Trump. “I said, I don’t want to quarrel now that Trump is there. But I would like to congratulate President Trump. Mabuhay ka [Long live]!” the President said in remarks before members of the Filipino community in Kuala Lumpur where he was on an official visit.
Obama canceled a bilateral meeting with Duterte at the sidelines of an Association of Southeast Asian Nations summit in Laos in September, following the latter’s expletive-laden rants.
Duterte later ordered a stop to joint exercises and naval patrols between the Philippine and US militaries, as well as the cancellation of a deal for 26,000 rifles for the Philippine National Police.
Duterte and Trump share an animosity toward Obama. In October, Trump used Duterte’s decision to restrict joint military exercises against Obama, claiming it was evidence of the US’ diminished stature overseas brought about by weak foreign policy under Obama and Clinton who had served as secretary of State.
Trump noted that the Philippines and the US shared a long history and that the Philippines was an “important” and “strategic” location.