By Argyll Geducos
President Duterte and his fellow Southeast Asian leaders were invited by United States President Donald Trump to come to Las Vegas and discuss matters of great importance between the US and the Association of Southeast Asian Nations (ASEAN) in March this year.
A Malacañang release read that the invitation was first extended by Trump to the 10 ASEAN leaders in the 35th ASEAN and East Asia Summit in Bangkok, Thailand in November last year.
The United States then reiterated its invitation through a letter dated January 9, saying the US-ASEAN Summit will take place on March 14 in Las Vegas, Nevada.
Presidential Spokesman Salvador Panelo, however, said in a text message that there was no information yet if President Duterte has already accepted the invitation.
In his original invitation to the ASEAN leaders dated November 1, 2019, President Trump said the Summit will enable both the US and ASEAN to enhance ties as the United States renews its commitment to its strategic partnership with the 10-member regional bloc.
“This will provide an excellent opportunity for us to broaden and deepen our cooperation on matters of great importance to the nearly one billion people in the United States and ASEAN nations that we have the privilege to represent,” Trump said.
“We share a common vision for the future of this dynamic and diverse region, based upon respect for sovereignty, commitment ta good governance, and adherence to the rule of law,” he added.
Trump’s invitation to Duterte came despite the recent US legislation which bans the entry of all Philippine officials supposedly behind the arrest and continued detention of Senator Leila de Lima.
Aside from the special summit, President Duterte has a long-standing invitation by President Trump to visit the US, including the White House.
Panelo earlier said that Duterte will formally decline Trump’s invitation to come to the White House after he signed their 2020 budget law which contained the controversial travel ban provision.
“If I remember correctly he said he would respond to the letter invitation and decline it,” he said last month.
In July 2017, Duterte said that he will never visit the United States during his term or anytime thereafter after US lawmakers expressed that he should not be invited to the White House because of the alleged human rights violations in the country.
Malacañang, meanwhile, said that the cold temperature and the long flight was stopping Duterte from visiting the US.