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US envoy says Duterte will keep PH-US alliance strong

United States Ambassador to the Philippines Sung Kim on Wednesday said he was confident that President Rodrigo Duterte would continue to keep the country’s alliance with other nations strong.

Sung spoke during a television interview Wednesday in which he was asked if he preferred a President Duterte in public or in private.

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

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

 

Kim cited 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 as proof that the two leaders had a strong connection when it comes to pressing issues that need their attention.

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

Trump boasted of his “great relationship” with Duterte, who stands accused of acting with impunity over a brutal war on the drug that has left more than 3,000 drug addicts and pushers dead.

On the campaign against illegal drugs, Kim said that both leaders agreed that rule of law must be maintained, citing the same anti-drug, anti-corruption, anti-crime efforts in different countries.

The US president did not comment on the human rights of the Philippines during his brief remarks to reporters before a meeting with Duterte. Both leaders also ignored shouted questions about Duterte’s drugs crackdown.

Trump arrived in the country in November last year, along with leaders of 18 other nations for two days of summits on the final leg of a 12-day Asia tour dominated by the North Korean nuclear crisis His visit coincided with the ASEAN Summit and Related Meetings in Manila.

Kim said both leaders agreed on the need to focus on counter-terrorism efforts, the importance of maintaining the US-Philippines alliance and of course, and their shared perspective on dealing with the North Korean threat.#