Is Duterte warming up to the US?

Is Duterte warming up to the US?

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@Jon Joaquin
President Rodrigo Duterte shares a light moment with US Ambassador to the Philippines Sung Kim following their meeting at the Presidential Guest House in Davao City on March 27, 2017. ACE MORANDANTE/Presidential Photo

DAVAO CITY, March 29, 2017 — US Ambassador to the Philippines Sung Y. Kim yesterday described his meeting with President Rodrigo Duterte last Monday as “friendly” and “productive” — a radically different tone from the President whose past stance towards the US had been antagonistic.

“Ambassador Sung Y. Kim traveled to Davao on March 27. While in Davao, the Ambassador had a friendly, productive meeting with President Duterte. They discussed the extensive bilateral partnership over the years as well as cooperation on counterterrorism, child protection, piracy, and economic development in Mindanao,” the US Embassy said in a statement.

“The Ambassador highlighted US-Philippine partnerships in the region that strengthen the local economy and promote peace and stability,” the statement added.

The Davao City meeting was held behind closed doors, but one of the official photos of the meeting shows Duterte smiling as he talks to Kim at the Presidential Guest House. Other photos indicate that the meeting was cordial.

President Rodrigo Duterte shares a light moment with US Ambassador to the Philippines Sung Kim following their meeting at the Presidential Guest House in Davao City on March 27, 2017. ACE MORANDANTE/Presidential Photo

According to Presidential Spokesperson Ernesto Abella, Kim expressed pride over the cooperation between US and Philippine intelligence forces in terms of intelligence and information sharing, training, and equipment support.

“Sung Kim also assured PRRD (President Rodrigo Roa Duterte) that the US understands the security concerns of the Philippines and that the US is ready to provide more military equipment, assistance, and training,” Abella said.

“They agreed that PH and the US have mutual interests and shared values. Both stressed that these fruitful engagements and discussions are very important in ensuring that both states are on the same page,” he added.

Meanwhile, the US Embassy highlighted the US government’s commitment to the development of Mindanao, saying it has pledged more than P3.5 billion for dozens of projects in Mindanao over the next few years, including the Roll-on, Roll-off, or RO-RO, nautical highway.

“On April 30, the route will connect the cities of Davao and General Santos to Bitung in the Sulawesi Island of Indonesia. This accomplishment will help US and Philippine businesses operating in Mindanao increase their exports at great savings,” the embassy said in its statement.


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