MANILA - President Rodrigo Duterte will decline United States President Donald Trump's invitation to the White House, Malacañang said Friday.
Trump first invited Duterte to visit Washington in 2016 over a phone call.
"He (Duterte) said he would respond to the letter-invitation and would decline it," Duterte's spokesman Salvador Panelo said.
Trump's invitation was brought to public attention after President Duterte ordered a ban on 2 US senators supportive of his critic, detained Sen. Leila de Lima.
"He (Duterte) said he never intended to visit the US ever since," Panelo said.
Panelo, however, clarified that Duterte bears no ill feelings towards Trump even after the Republican leader signed the US government's $1.4-trillion 2020 budget that included a provision on a possible US ban on Filipino government officials involved in the "wrongful imprisonment" of De Lima.
In his previous speeches, Duterte has repeatedly said he would never visit the United States during his presidency but has never issued a formal statement on the matter.