Trump to shorten PHL visit

Friday, November 10th, 2017. Filed under: Philippine News U.S. News World News
US President Donald Trump will visit the Philippines this November as part of his Asian tour. ((Official White House Photo by Shealah Craighead)

US President Donald Trump will visit the Philippines this November as part of his Asian tour. ((Official White House Photo by Shealah Craighead)

MANILA — United States Ambassador to the Philippines Sung Kim on Thursday clarified that President Donald Trump missing the East-Asia Summit (EAS) on November 14 is “purely for scheduling reasons” and does not indicate “weakening” of US commitment to the region.

Kim stressed that the Trump administration is “fully committed to the Asia Pacific” as it recognized its “strategic importance”.

“It is in our interest to remain closely engaged in the Asia Pacific region,” he said, adding that US Defense Secretary James Mattis himself even visited the Philippines recently.

“This demonstrates the purpose and attention that Washington is paying to our important bilateral relationship… I don’t think the fact that President (Trump) cannot stay for the EAS, in any way, indicates a weakening of our commitment to the Asia Pacific.”

“The president himself is looking forward to visiting the Philippines,” he added.

Also in a statement, Kim clarified that Trump’s trip to Manila is “long” and “for very important reasons, he needs to get back to Washington on the 14th and that’s why he will not be able to participate in the EAS.”

During his stay in the country, Kim assured that the US leader will be engaged in “wide range of very important engagements including the ASEAN Summit. We expect he will have a bilateral meeting with President Duterte… It will be a very productive visit,” he said.

According to the Department of Foreign Affairs (DFA), Trump will be in Manila for the Special Gala Celebration of the 50th anniversary of ASEAN on November 12 and the ASEAN-US Summit on November 13.

“The Philippine and US sides are also working out a bilateral meeting between the two Presidents,” said DFA Acting Spokesperson Robespierre Bolivar.

Cayetano earlier mentioned that issues of interest the two state leaders may raise are on the economic side and security.

“You’ve heard President Trump said American first. You’ve heard President Duterte said his life, his work, is dedicated to the Filipino people. So what’s the fundamental interest, intersecting interest of America and the Philippines, first is security right?” he told reporters last Wednesday.

For trade, Cayetano said the US side is negotiating many regional and multilateral trade agreements but there’s “possibility” that the two will explore a bilateral agreement.

No CIA plot

Meanwhile, Kim cleared that there is “absolutely no effort by the Central Intelligence Agency” to undermine the Philippine leadership.

He acknowledged that President Duterte won a “very impressive election” and the US side will respect his assumption of leadership.

“We are in fact working very well together with his administration,” he said. “It is much important for us to focus on what we are doing with our relationship than public statements.”

“He is very clear about his respect for Philippines-US relationship, including the military partnership. He is also very clear about his desire to have a strong constructive mutually beneficial relationship with the US,” Kim emphasized. (PNA)

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