MANILA, Philippines – Malacañang said President Rodrigo Duterte had a “productive 45-minute meeting” with US Ambassador to the Philippines Sung Kim in Davao City on Sunday, January 15.
Duterte and Kim met after the Philippine leader launched the country’s chairmanship of the Association of Southeast Asian Nations (ASEAN) for 2017. They also previously met last December when Kim presented his credentials to Duterte.
“The US ambassador congratulated the Philippines on its assumption of the ASEAN hosting and looked forward to a successful leadership,” said Presidential Spokesperson Ernesto Abella in a statement on Sunday.
“Furthermore, he also discussed [US-Philippine] military cooperation, particularly in the fight against terrorism, and the extent of US assistance to Mindanao,” said Abella.
“Citing cooperation in law enforcement, Ambassador Sung Kim stressed that the US will continue to provide support, including intelligence exchange and in maritime security. It was a very productive meeting marked by an open exchange of ideas,” he added.
Abella also said Kim affirmed the long-standing ties between Manila and Washington. Those ties were called into question when Duterte assumed power last year, as the President launched one tirade after another against the US, President Barack Obama, and then US ambassador to the Philippines Philip Goldberg.
But the relationship between the Philippines and the US is expected to warm up once Obama’s successor, President-elect Donald Trump, takes office on January 20.
Duterte has been cordial toward Trump, even inviting him to visit Manila this year.
“[Kim] reiterated the commitment of the US to the bilateral relationship with the [Philippines] which he described as ‘solid,'” said Abella.
Earlier, too, Abella hailed the US for naming an ambassador to Manila who has Asian roots.
Born in Seoul, South Korea, Kim previously served as special representative for North Korea policy and deputy assistant secretary in the Bureau of East Asia and Pacific Affairs at the US State Department.
He also worked as US ambassador to Korea from 2011 to 2014. – Rappler.com