MANILA - U.S. President-elect Donald Trump spoke on the telephone on Friday with Philippine President Rodrigo Duterte and invited him to visit the White House next year during a "very engaging, animated" talk, an aide to Duterte said.
The call lasted just over seven minutes, Duterte's special advisor, Christopher Go, said in a text message to media.
Go, Duterte's longtime aide and better known as "Bong Go", said the Philippine president invited Trump to come to his country next year when it is chair of a series of summits of the Association of South East Asian Nations (ASEAN).
In a speech earlier this month, Duterte appeared to have changed his outlook of the Philippines’ long-time security ally when he pointed out “similarities” between him and the incoming U.S. president.
“Ayaw kong makipag-away kasi nandyan na si Trump. I would like to congratulate President Trump. Mabuhay ka!” Duterte said in a speech before the Filipino community in Malaysia.
“Pareho tayo nagmumura. Konting rason lang, mura kaagad. Medyo pare-pareho kami."
(I don’t want to fight now that Trump’s there. I would like to congratulate President Trump. May you live, Mr. Trump! We both curse at the slightest of reason. We are alike.)
Trump earlier told Reuters that the Philippines is a very important strategic location and that Duterte's comments about removing foreign troops showed "a lack of respect for our country."
The phone conversation could signal an improvement of ties between the US and the Philippines, two long-time allies in the Pacific.
The U.S., under outgoing President Barack Obama, has been at the receiving end of Duterte’s many rants over what he believes was Washington’s intervention in Manila’s internal affairs. - with a report from Reuters