President Rodrigo Duterte’s “private” meeting with United States (US) Ambassador Sung Kim at the Malacañan Palace on Wednesday, September 12, has led to “closer” relations with Washington, Presidential Spokesperson Harry Roque Jr. said on Thursday, September 13.
“We’ve always had a good relationship with the United States. And I’m sure that every meeting between the President and the US ambassador will result in closer relations,” Roque told Palace reporters.
President Duterte, for his part, refused to spill the beans about his “confidential” meeting with the US ambassador.
On the sidelines of command conference held in Quezon City, Duterte told reporters that he would first seek Kim’s permission before making public the issues raised during their meeting held at the Malacañan Palace on Wednesday, September 12.
The President, nevertheless, stressed that there was “nothing earthshaking” about his meeting with Kim.
“I cannot discuss that until I get his permission. It’s a diplomatic tête-à-tête but nothing earthshaking but more of confidentiality. I hate to break the rules,” he said.
Duterte met with Kim three weeks after he challenged the US to prove its willingness to enter into a possible weapons procurement deal with the Philippines.
The US, in a letter addressed to Duterte, has expressed openness to have a “future defense procurement” with the Philippines, in a bid to “strengthen and deepen the steadfast bonds” between the two nations.
On August 23, Duterte said he would only be amenable to a possible defense procurement deal with the US if Washington is able to show “utter good faith” in selling weapons to the Philippine troops.
Roque said he had no further details about the issues raised during the meeting between Duterte and Kim.
In a Twitter post, Kim described his meeting with Duterte as “excellent,” noting that the two nations agreed to maintain “strong and ironclad” relations.
“Excellent meeting with President Duterte to discuss shared goals, including defense priorities and economic partnership. Our alliance remains strong and ironclad,” the US ambassador to the Philippines said. (SunStar Philippines)