Rody can’t promise to accept Trump invite

Alexis Romero - The Philippine Star

MANILA, Philippines - “Tied up” with previous travel commitments, President Duterte said yesterday he was not sure if he would accept US President Donald Trump’s invitation to go to the White House.

“No, because I’m tied up. I cannot make any definite promise,” the President told reporters in Davao City when asked if he had accepted Trump’s invitation.

Duterte noted that he still has scheduled trips to Russia and Israel.

The Chief Executive said he is also expected to go to Cambodia for the World Economic Forum and to China for the One Belt, One Road Summit.

He is scheduled to visit Russia in the last week of May to meet with Russian President Vladimir Putin.

When asked whether his positive statements on Trump go against his decision to distance himself from the US, Duterte said: “Nothing of this sort, actually. It was not a distancing but it was rather a rift between me maybe and the State Department and (former US president) Mr. (Barack) Obama, who spoke openly against me.

“Things have changed, the new leadership wants to make friends. Well, things have changed, because the new leadership, he (Trump) wants to make friends and he says that we are friends. So why do you have to pick a fight?” he added.

Obama had called out Duterte for the spate of killings linked to the latter’s war on illegal drugs. Duterte lashed back at Obama by cursing him and accusing him of meddling in the Philippines’ internal affairs. 

On Saturday, Trump called Duterte to discuss regional issues, including the threat posed by North Korea. Trump also invited Duterte to visit the White House in a conversation that officials described as “friendly” and “warm.”

Foreign Affairs spokesman Robespierre Bolivar said a White House visit of Duterte would take place a few months after a formal invitation has been accepted.

Bolivar said the President and the American leader would discuss the situation in the Korean Peninsula. – With Edith Regalado, Pia Lee-Brago

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