US envoy cites PRRD’s thrust to keep PH-US alliance strong

MANILA — Serving as United States Ambassador to the Philippines for more than a year now, Sung Kim on Wednesday emphasized how he sees President Rodrigo Duterte as a leader that keeps the country’s relationship with partners strong.

In a television interview over GMA-7, Kim was asked who he prefers, a President Duterte in public or in private.

“I prefer his private. I think President Duterte is a very compelling, interesting, strong leader,” he said. “He remains a very popular leader so we have to give him credit for having that leadership.”

Kim said he “enjoyed” his private meetings with the president. “I think he’s very smart, very knowledgeable and I think he cares very deeply about what’s happening to his country.”

“And (more) importantly for me, I think he values Philippine-US relationship. I think he wants to make sure the alliance is strong,” he pointed out.

To recall, the chief executive had been critical towards Washington in his first few months in the office, recalling historic grievances against US mostly in his public speeches.

The Department of Foreign Affairs and the US government repeatedly asserted that the longstanding partnership between the two countries remained “strong.”

Strong connection

Citing the recent meeting between President Duterte and US President Donald Trump at the sidelines of the 31st Association of Southeast Asian Nations Summit in Manila, Kim said the two had a strong connection in terms of pressing issues they think were in need of attention.

“They seemed to get along very well, I think on a personal level, but also on issues,” he said.

“They have a very strong agreement, for example, on the need to focus on counter-terrorism efforts and the importance of maintaining the US-Philippines alliance and of course, their shared perspective on dealing with the North Korean threat,” he added.

On the campaign against illegal drugs, Kim said the two leaders “agreed that rule of law must be maintained on everything we do, including anti-drug, anti-corruption, anti-crime efforts in different countries.”

He said that there was no ambiguity about their agreement that the rule of law must be maintained on everything, including the anti-drug campaign. (PNA)