Duterte, Trump meet for the first time

Pia Ranada
'See you tomorrow,' US President Donald Trump supposedly tells Philippine President Rodrigo Duterte at their first encounter

FIRST ENCOUNTER. Special Assistant to the President (SAP) Bong Go takes a photo of the first encounter between US President Donald Trump and Philippine President Rodrigo Duterte. Photo from SAP Bong Go/Malacañang

MANILA, Philippines – After two phone conversations, the two leaders finally met.

Philippine President Rodrigo Duterte interacted in person with US President Donald Trump for the first time on Saturday, November 11, during an Asia-Pacific Economic Cooperation (APEC) event in Vietnam.

The two firebrand leaders met on the sidelines of the APEC Economic Leaders’ Meeting Retreat, which was attended by other APEC leaders in Da Nang, Vietnam.

Special Assistant to the President Bong Go sent reporters a photo of the moment. It showed Trump, with a frown on his face, speaking to the Philippine leader, who was wearing a slight smile.

According to Malacañang, Trump told Duterte, “See you tomorrow.” He was likely referring to his visit to Manila starting Sunday, November 12, to attend the Association of Southeast Asian Nations (ASEAN) Summit.

Presidential Spokesman Harry Roque Jr also told reporters the brief meeting was “very warm and cordial.”

The APEC gathering was hosted by Vietnamese President Trần Đại Quang. Also present were Russian President Vladimir Putin, Chinese President Xi Jinping, Japanese Prime Minister Shinzo Abe, and Indonesian President Joko Widodo.

The meeting of the two leaders has been much awaited, given the headline-grabbing personalities and leadership styles of the two.

Trump, like Duterte, is fond of colorful verbal attacks against his critics. Both have unconventional governance styles that some perceive as a challenge to elitist politics.

But there are key differences as well. While Trump has had no experience in public service, Duterte has been a mayor for over two decades and served one term as a congressman.

While Trump has championed immigration policies banning nationals of Muslim-dominated countries from the US, Duterte embraces Muslim culture and counts Muslims among his relatives.

Trump is also an unpopular US president while Duterte continues to enjoy the approval of a majority of Filipinos, according to local surveys.

Prior to their meeting, the two had spoken on the phone.

Their first phone conversation was after Trump’s victory in the US presidential elections last year. Duterte spoke with him on the phone to congratulate him. (READ: Duterte impersonates Trump, shares their conversation)

The second was when Trump called Duterte after the ASEAN Summit in Manila in April. (READ: Duterte told Trump to ‘keep the pressure’ on N. Korea– Rappler.com

Pia Ranada

Pia Ranada is a senior reporter for Rappler covering Philippine politics and environmental issues. For tips and story suggestions, email her at pia.ranada@rappler.com.