What to expect when Duterte meets Trump in Manila? » Manila Bulletin News

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By Ellson A. Quismorio
Concerns over terrorism, violent and cyber crimes, as well as humanitarian assistance and disaster relief will most likely dominate the formal discussions between President Rodrigo Roa Duterte and United States President Donald Trump during the Association of Southeast Asian Nations (ASEAN) Summit here next week.

President Rodrigo Duterte (left) and US President Donald Trump (MANILA BULLETIN)

This was the assessment made by Foreign Affairs Spokesperson Robespierre Bolivar, while noting that the topics that will be discussed by the two leaders could be considered par for the course in such instances.

“Being the first formal meeting of the two leaders, we expect them to discuss strategic issues on Philippine-US bilateral relations,” Bolivar told local and foreign reporters early Fridayevening at the pre-31st ASEAN Summit briefing at the World Trade Center in Pasay City.

Trump will be in the country November 12 to 14.

“We know that the bilateral relations [with the United States] is the only security alliance the Philippines has with any country for that matter,” Bolivar noted.

“All of these things will come into play when the leaders meet and in the past few months since the Duterte administration came into office, we’ve been trying to strengthen cooperation with the United States on urgent issues of common concern, including terrorism, violent crimes, cyber crimes, humanitarian assistance and disaster relief,” Bolivar enumerated.

“We believe that all of these would most likely on the table when they meet,” he said.

The Philippine and US are longtime allies, and the rise of two brash and tough-talking leaders in Duterte and Trump has had pundits predicting an interesting if not wild first encounter.

Duterte, a former prosecutor and Davao City mayor, had hurled invectives at Trump’s predecessor Barack Obama over America’s alleged historical injustices to the Filipinos.

Trump, on the other hand, is a billionaire businessman-turned-reality TV star who also knows how to deliver a verbal thrashing–especially on his favorite social media platform, Twitter.

As such, any clash of minds could be interesting.

“If bilateral meetings with the US for instance happen, then we expect them to discuss alliance of course and how to make sure that the alliance will cater to the urgent needs of the day which are common to both the US and the Philippines,” Bolivar said.

At any rate, the DFA spokesperson said Duterte will be a very busy man during the ASEAN summit, and may not have enough time with the US President.

As such, he said that there was as yet no confirmed list of heads of state that are scheduled to meet with Duterte.

“First we have to understand that the President is chairing all of these meetings…in these series of Summits. We are trying our best to find free time, free schedules for the President to be able to meet those heads of state in government and maybe the UN who may request to meet the President on a bilateral basis,” Bolivar said.

“I can’t confirm anything at this point since the schedule is really very very tight. And you only have two days for the summit,” he said in response to a reporter’s query.

In these cases, he said that heads of state would “want to go for the maximum benefit agenda items. Which means practical cooperation.”

 





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