“We’ve always had good relationship with the United States and I am sure every meeting between the President and the US ambassador would result in closer relations,” Roque said at a press briefing in Malacañang.
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Duterte meets US Ambassador Sung Kim
Christina Mendez (The Philippine Star) - September 14, 2018 - 12:00am

MANILA, Philippines — A “private meeting” at Malacañang between President Duterte and US Ambassador Sung Kim last Wednesday was an indication of warming ties between the two countries, presidential spokesman Harry Roque Jr. said yesterday.

“We’ve always had good relationship with the United States and I am sure every meeting between the President and the US ambassador would result in closer relations,” Roque said at a press briefing in Malacañang.

Roque did not release details of the meeting, which came amid the President’s undisguised animosity toward the US.

He lashed out at the US after the previous Obama administration “insulted” him by criticizing the conduct of his war on drugs.

Duterte also questioned restrictions imposed by the US on grants offered to the Philippines, as well as the move by some lawmakers to block arms purchase by the Philippine government.

Duterte, however, makes no secret of his liking for Obama’s successor Donald Trump.

“But as I said, I have to get clearance from the President himself on what he is willing to release on the meeting,” Roque added.

Duterte himself said late yesterday that there was nothing earthshaking about the meeting.

“I cannot discuss until I get his (Kim) permission. It’s a diplomatic tete-a-tete, but nothing earthshaking but more of confidentiality. But I hate to break the rules,” he said.

But Roque said he has no doubt about the statement of the US ambassador describing in his social media account as “excellent” his meeting with President Duterte.

“Perhaps there is no reason to doubt the Twitter account of the US ambassador, as I said it was classified as private meeting,” Roque said when pressed for details about the meeting.

In his official Twitter account, Kim said they discussed “shared goals including defense priorities and economic partnership.” 

“Our alliance remains strong and ironclad,” the US ambassador added.

Duterte rushed to the meeting with Kim last Wednesday after leading an oath-taking of new government officials and the awarding of incentives and citation certificates to the medalists who participated in the recently-concluded 2018 Asian Games in Indonesia.

When he was on an official trip to Israel, Duterte apologized to Obama for cursing him.

Speaking before the Filipino community at the Ramada Hotel in Jerusalem, Duterte offered his apologies for hurling insults at the former US leader.

“It would be appropriate to say at this time, Mr. Obama, you are now a civilian. I am sorry for uttering those words. Know it was just a plain ‘talkatese.’ We have learned our lessons very well,” Duterte said in his speech.

Upon his assumption into office, President Duterte vowed to pursue an independent foreign policy by warming up to China and Russia.

RODRIGO DUTERTE SUNG KIM
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