'No word' yet on possible talks between US President Biden and Duterte – PH envoy

Published May 31, 2021, 4:25 PM

by Roy Mabasa

There is no word yet as to when United States President Joe Biden and Philippine President Duterte will have their first conversation even while the US and the Philippines are currently celebrating the 75th year of the establishment of diplomatic relations.

President Rodrigo Duterte (May 26, 2021 / Malacañang photo)

(FILES) In this file photo US President Joe Biden delivers remarks on the COVID-19 response and the vaccination program in the East Room of the White House on May 17, 2021 in Washington,DC. Nicholas Kamm / AFP

“Right now they have no schedule yet. From what I know it’s part of the plan because we are celebrating the 75th anniversary (of diplomatic relations). That would probably be, more or less, for this conversation to happen,” Philippine Ambassador to Washington, D.C. Jose Manuel Romualdez said during a pre-taped interview with Presidential Spokesperson Harry Roque aired Monday.

Another opportunity for the two leaders to speak, according to Romualdez, is on or before the Association of Southeast Asian Nations (ASEAN) Summit to be held in Brunei Darussalam in November,

“I think President Biden plans to talk to many of the ASEAN leaders, hopefully before the in-person meeting that would happen in November in Brunei,” he said.

The only time that the two leaders have officially communicated since Biden assumed office on January 21, 2021 was through a letter that the latter sent to Duterte. Romualdez did not mention when the letter was sent.

“We are still awaiting word from them but President Biden already wrote President Duterte a letter not only on the occasion of the 75th anniversary but also to inform him about how strongly the relationship and the United States and the Philippines will continue,” the envoy said.

In the same letter, Romualdez said the US president expressed his hope to meet Duterte in person at “some point in time”.

Shortly after the inauguration of Biden and Vice President Kamala Harris in Washington, D.C. in January, Malacañang conveyed a rather tepid congratulatory message by Spokesperson Harry Roque to the 46th president of the United States where he emphasized the need for “mutual respect” and “mutual benefit” in the relations between the two countries.