MANILA—President Rodrigo Duterte on Wednesday said he has yet to visit the United States because of schedule issues.
US President Donald Trump has a standing invitation to Duterte to visit the US, but the tough-talking Filipino leader has yet to accept it.
The President cited schedule and his aversion to long flights as reasons why his visit has not taken place yet.
“I have been invited to the United States several times, but you know it’s not because of anybody or any place there. It has something to do with the schedule,” Duterte said in a speech in Davao City.
“If it could only be a regional flight where I can go fly in and fly out in the evening, that would be very easy. But the long haul of 13, 14 hours would kill me.”
Since assuming power, Duterte has sought to downgrade Manila’s ties with its traditional ally, Washington.
There was a rapprochement of sorts between the two countries, however, when Trump was elected, as he was seen to be not critical of Duterte’s war on illegal drugs.
Duterte once said he would never visit the US.
US Ambassador to the Philippines Sung Kim earlier this month said the Philippines and the US were still working on the schedule of Duterte’s visit to the US.
Kim also said the visit was also a “question of scheduling.”
Duterte and Trump have already met in Manila on the sidelines of the Association of Southeast Asian Nations Summit last November.