By Genalyn Kabiling
The Philippines and the United States have reaffirmed their strong friendship and alliance following the meeting of President Duterte and US Secretary of State Michael Pompeo Thursday night.
Pompeo arrived in Manila Thursday for a two-day visit and immediately paid a courtesy call on President Duterte at the Kalayaan Lounge in Villamor Air Base in Pasay City. The meeting with the President was “very productive,” according to US Ambassador to the Philippines Sung Kim.
“It was my privilege to join @SecPompeo for a very productive meeting with President Duterte, reaffirming the U.S.-Philippines relationship as #FriendsPartnersAllies,” the US ambassador tweeted after the meeting.
The US Embassy in Manila also tweeted that the Pompeo’s meeting with the Philippine leader was meant “to further strengthen the strong ties between our two nations.”
The President, who recently declared the country’s relations with the United States remained strong, met with Pompeo behind closed doors for nearly an hour. The two earlier shook hands and smiled before the cameras prior their private meeting together with other senior officials.
Presidential Spokesman Salvador Panelo earlier said the President was expected to discuss mutually beneficial concerns with Pompeo including security cooperation and terrorism issues.
The proposed review of the the country’s mutual defense treaty with the United States could also be tackled in the meeting with the visiting US official, according to Defense Secretary Delfin Lorenzana.
Apart from Lorenzana and Panelo, Executive Secretary Salvador Medialdea, Foreign Affairs Secretary Teodoro Locsin Jr. and other Philippine senior officials were present in the meeting.
The visit of Pompeo comes amid the President’s decision to enhance the country’s economic and security ties with Russia and China, the perceived traditional rivals of the United States. The country’s ties with the US were earlier strained after Duterte protested the previous Obama administration’s criticisms of his war on illegal drugs.
The relations between the nations somehow improved following the assumption to office by US President Donald Trump who has commended Duterte and his campaign against drugs. He has even invited Duterte to visit the United States but the President has yet to accept the invitation.