US President Donald Trump lavished President Rodrigo Duterte with praise on the Philippines’ “very successful” hosting of the 31st Association of Southeast Asian Nations (Asean) Summit and described US relations with the Philippines as “great.”
“This has been very successful. We have many meetings today with many leaders in the Asean conferences and which have been handled beautifully by the President and the Philippines and your representatives,” Trump told Duterte during bilateral talks on the sidelines of the summit on Monday.
“But we very much appreciate the great treatment that you have given. I thought last night’s event was fantastic, tremendous talent. Most of them I guess from the Philippines. Tremendous talent. Musical talent, dance talent we really had a tremendous time all of the leaders. So I think in behalf of the leaders and everybody I want to thank you and I want to thank the Philippines,” Trump added.
In their talks, Trump reaffirmed US-Philippine ties, saying: “We’ve had a great relationship.”
Trump arrived in the Philippines on Sunday for meetings with his Southeast Asian counterparts, the last stop of his Asian tour.
The US President has offered to mediate in the dispute at the South China Sea, which five countries, including the Philippines, have been claiming.
On October 30, Duterte said he would raise the issue on the escalating tension between the US and North Korea over the Korean peninsula.
Last Wednesday, the President said he would bring up the West Philippine Sea dispute to allow Trump, who also met Chinese President Xi Jinping during the Asia Pacific Economic Cooperation (APEC) Conference, to have a “balanced answer.”
Duterte said he would also tell Trump to “lay off” on the issue of supposed human rights violations associated with the his administration’s war against illegal drugs that has been linked to thousands of extrajudicial killings.
Asked by an American reporter if he would bring up the human rights issue during the meeting, Duterte said he’s not going to answer any questions regarding the matter as they were still in a bilateral talks.
He told the media that maybe later there would be a press conference where the reporters could ask questions regarding the issue.
Duterte and Trump first met on Saturday, November 11, at the APEC Summit in Vietnam.