Trump cites ‘great relationship’ with Duterte during 1st bilateral meeting

Pia Ranada
Trump cites ‘great relationship’ with Duterte during 1st bilateral meeting
At the start of their first bilateral meeting, the US leader congratulates Duterte for a 'beautifully' organized ASEAN Summit

MANILA, Philippines – In their first ever bilateral meeting, United States President Donald Trump told Philippine President Rodrigo Duterte he was happy about their “great relationship.”

“We’ve had a great relationship. This has been very successful,” said Trump on Monday, November 13, after he was invited by Duterte to make a statement to the media before their closed-door meeting.

The meeting took place at around 1 pm at the Philippine International Convention Center, on the sidelines of the 31st Association of Southeast Asian Nations Summit and Related Summits.

Trump also praised the Philippine government’s hosting of the international gathering: “The ASEAN conferences has been handled beautifully by the President of the Philippines and your representatives.”

He seemed to have particuarly enjoyed the gala dinner the previous night, where Duterte gave in to his “orders” to sing his favorite song.

“We very much appreciate the great treatment you’ve given. I thought last night’s event was fantastic, tremendous talent,” said Trump.

The controversial US president even found something to say about the Philippines’ weather.

“I really enjoyed being here. The weather is always good. Today it’s pretty good,” said Trump.

When an American reporter tried to ask Trump if he would bring up human rights violations during the meeting, Duterte cut in to say: “We aren’t taking questions. This is a bilateral meeting.”

Present at the meeting, from the Philippine side, were Executive Secretary Salvador Medialdea, Foreign Secretary Alan Peter Cayetano, Defense Secretary Delfin Lorenzana, National Security Adviser Hermogenes Esperon Jr, Finance Secretary Sonny Dominguez, Trade Secretary Ramon Lopez, and Special Assistant to the President Bong Go.

In a list released by Malacañang, Trump’s business partner and Duterte’s Special Envoy to the US Jose EB Antonio was also listed as a participant of the meeting.

From the US side, in attendance were Secretary of State Rex Tillerson and US Ambassador to the Philippines Sung Kim. – 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.