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Kerry arrives as biggest VIP to visit Duterte

MANILA, Philippines – US Secretary of State John Kerry arrived in the Philippines on Tuesday evening, July 26, for an unprecedented meeting with Philippine President Rodrigo Duterte. 

Department of Foreign Affairs (DFA) spokesman Charles Jose confirmed this in a text message at 8:52 pm on Tuesday.

Kerry is the most prominent figure to meet with Duterte since the President took office on June 30. The top diplomat of the US is visiting the Philippines less than a month after Duterte became president. 

During this overnight trip, he also scheduled to speak with his Philippine counterpart, Philippine Foreign Secretary Yasay Jr.

Kerry is set to attend at least two events aside from his meeting with Duterte.

On Wednesday, July 27, Kerry will speak at the Young Southeast Asian Leadership Initiative (YSEALI) Sea and Earth Advocate Camp (SEA Camp) Summit at Sofitel Philippine Plaza Manila, Pasay City.

On the same day, he will hold a joint press conference with Yasay at the Department of Foreign Affairs, also in Pasay City.

Kerry's visit comes days after the Philippines won a historic case against China over the West Philippine Sea (South China Sea). 

Earlier on Tuesday, Kerry said he is supporting negotiations between the Philippines and China. He said he agrees with Chinese Foreign Minister Wang Yi that it is time to "turn the page" on the two countries’ maritime dispute. 

The Philippines said it is open to bilateral talks with China, but China said it will reject negotiations if based on the West Philippine Sea ruling. Manila asserts that the ruling will be the “baseline” for talks with Beijing. – Rappler.com

Paterno R. Esmaquel II

Paterno R. Esmaquel II, news editor of Rappler, specializes in covering religion and foreign affairs. He obtained his MA Journalism degree from Ateneo and later finished MSc Asian Studies (Religions in Plural Societies) at RSIS, Singapore. For story ideas or feedback, email him at pat.esmaquel@rappler.com.

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