Trump phones Du30: ‘Warm’ chat included invite to White House

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U.S. President Donald Trump speaks during an interview with Reuters in the Oval Office of the White House in Washington, U.S., April 27, 2017. REUTERS/Carlos Barria

WASHINGTON/MANILA – President Donald Trump invited Philippines President Rodrigo Duterte to the White House during a phone call on Saturday that also addressed concerns over North Korea, the White House said in a statement.

The White House gave no details of when the leaders would meet in Washington to discuss their alliance, but said Trump looked forward to visiting the Philippines in November as part of two summits with other Asian nations.

In Manila, Presidential Spokesperson Ernie Abella confirmed that “there was a mention of an invitation from President Trump to President Rodrigo Duterte to visit the White House.”

Abella shared with reporters Sunday the highlights of President Trump’s call to President Duterte Satuday evening. “The ambit of the conversation between the two leaders includes the expression of commitment of US President Trump to the PH-US alliance and his interest in developing a warm, working relationship with President Duterte.”

Trump likewise mentioned “that he looks forward to his visit to the Philippines in November for the East Asia Summit,” Abella said.

The Palace spokesperson characterized as “warm” the discussions between the presidents, “with President Trump expressing his understanding and appreciation of the challenges facing the Philippine President, especially on the matter of dangerous drugs.”

Other topics were also touched on, Abella added, “like that of the upcoming summit, as well as matters of regional geo-political concerns, especially on the situation in North Korea.” However, he said, “details understandably are not forthcoming.”

On Saturday, Duterte, addressing the media at the end of the 30th ASEAN Summit which he chairs, said that he planned to appeal to Trump – when he calls him – to be more “patient” and not be baited into any reckless action by North Korean Leader Kim Jong-un, whom he said obviously wants to “drag everyone” with him as he plays with “toys” that can destroy the planet.

“The countries of ASEAN are extremely worried. There seems to be two countries playing with their toys, and those toys are not really to entertain,” Duterte said, referring to the North Korea and the United States.

Duterte said it behooves America to be “prudent and patient.”

Trump earlier ordered the deployment of aircraft carrier USS Carl Vinson to the Korean peninsula as a way of warning Pyongyang to desist from further weapons testing.