MANILA—President Rodrigo Duterte on Saturday thanked Chinese President Xi Jinping for Beijing’s aid in response to the Marawi crisis.
"First of all, let me thank you for your crucial help in our fight in Marawi a few weeks ago. We badly needed help and it was China who first came to our aid," Duterte told Xi during their bilateral meeting in Da Nang, Vietnam.
"For that, we are very, very thankful to you. As you say, we value your friendship more than anything else. And I said I gave you my word that we can be your true friends."
The bilateral talks followed the conclusion of the Asia-Pacific Economic Cooperation Summit.
Duterte also thanked Xi for donating firearms to the Philippine military.
"The arms that you provided were very crucial and one of our snipers, sharpshooters killed [Abu Sayyaf top leader Isnilon Hapilon] using a Chinese-made sniper rifle," he said.
"I will congratulate your guys here who make the firearms -- very good, very accurate. And I’m happy to have received them for my country."
The Scout Ranger unit conducting the operation, however, said the shot that killed Hapilon came from a heavier weapon mounted on an armored vehicle.
China donated hefty financial support for the rehabilitation of Marawi and for state troops who fought against Islamic State-inspired terrorists.
Presidential spokesman Harry Roque said the talk between Duterte and Xi was straightforward.
"Naging pranka ang usapan ni President Xi at ni President Duterte. Dalawang punto ang napag-usapan. Iyong punto ng ano ang mangyayari doon sa (South China Sea) Code of Conduct," Roque told reporters after the meeting.
"Ang sinagot ni President Xi ay nagkasundo na sa framework ng Code of Conduct at ipagpapatuloy ang usapin at inaasahan niyang matapos ito."
Xi also assured that nations have freedom of navigation when traversing the South China Sea, according to Roque.
Roque added that Xi has urged the United States and North Korea to settle their differences diplomatically.
"Pagdating naman doon sa usapin ng North Korea, ang sinabi niya ay walang interes ang China na magkagulo sa Korean Peninsula. Kaya ang sabi ng Tsina ay they are encouraging na mag-usap ang bansang Estados Unidos at ang North Korea," he said. — Report from Alvin Elchico, ABS-CBN News