MANILA - President Rodrigo Duterte on Thursday refused to reveal what he and United States Ambassador to the Philippines Sung Kim discussed during their meeting in Malacañang on Wednesday.
Duterte told reporters he could not discuss their meeting “until I get his (Kim's) permission.”
“[There was] nothing earthshaking. But [due to] confidentiality, I hate to break the rules,” he added.
In a tweet on Wednesday evening, Kim said he and Duterte shared goals, including defense priorities and economic partnership.”
“Our alliance remains strong and iron-clad,” Kim said.
Kim and Duterte’s meeting in Malacañang came on the heels of the chief executive’s rejection of a US offer of F-16 fighter jets.
Duterte has lamented that US military assistance usually comes with conditions, supposedly unlike China's or Russia's offer of aid. He has many times criticized the US in public speeches.
Duterte’s meeting with the American envoy was not included in the official schedule Malacañang released to the media. But the President himself revealed in a meeting with Filipino Asian Games medal winners on Wednesday that he was running late for his meeting with the US envoy.
Duterte and Kim have already met several times. Observers say Kim’s Korean roots have helped him establish better rapport with Duterte compared to his predecessor, Philip Goldberg.
The US has been a long-standing ally of the Philippines, but under Duterte, this relationship has been tested due to criticism of his administration’s war on drugs and human rights record by the Obama administration as well as some bureaucrats and legislators under the current administration.