Philippines and US’s first time meeting: Reality and expectations

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Jumel G. Estrañero |

The first time is always the first time and this week, a political first time meet-up will be witnessed in the Asia Pacific region. President Rodrigo Duterte is set to meet with United States President Donald Trump for the first time during the Asia Pacific Economic Cooperation (APEC) Summit in Vietnam this week.

According to Department of Foreign Affairs (DFA) Assistant Secretary Leo Herrera Lim, Duterte is scheduled to fly to Vietnam on Wednesday to attend the summit, which started November 6. Afterwards, Duterte and Trump will meet at the welcome dinner on November 8.

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I can recall that to date, the two leaders had at least two phone conversations – first in December 2016 and the second was last April.

President Duterte will take this opportunity to take the issue of the South China Sea to the next level with US support without triggering China to see US-RP as a threat in the process.

At this point, I can only say that there are things that Duterte and Trump must talk about. In fact, there are several opportunities for them both at the welcome dinner on the 8th as well as several engagements including the gala dinner and the meeting itself.

What is now observable right now is that Duterte and Trump’s meeting came weeks after the Philippine leader said he was now on friendlier terms with the US, saying they have redeemed themselves a lot. This is contrary to when Barack Obama was still the US President. Back then, the US had earned the ire of Duterte, accusing Philippine’s longtime ally of hypocrisy and bullying over its criticisms of his vicious campaign against illegal drugs.

Duterte is scheduled to fly to Vietnam on Wednesday to attend the summit, which started November 6.

I am positive that amidst the hard/coercive rhetoric of Duterte with the US before, this is a good time for the Philippines to take cognizance with the US on matters regarding terrorism since both countries are dealing with it. Plus, I hope President Duterte will take this opportunity to take the issue of the South China Sea to the next level with US support without triggering China to see US-RP as a threat in the process.

Read more: Trump’s flattery won’t work with Xi Jinping

After his attendance to the APEC (Asia-Pacific Economic Cooperation), Trump is scheduled to visit the Philippines on November 12th to 14th for the Association of Southeast Asian Nations (ASEAN) Summit in Manila.  I am hoping for the best of times this time around; not harsh words but strategic intents from both sides.

The writer is a defence and security analyst based in the Philippines. He has co-authored many books including the Handbook of Terrorism 2019 (Philippines). His works have appeared in Eurasia Review, Global Security Review and Geopolitical Monitor.

The views expressed in this article are the authors’ own and do not necessarily reflect Global Village Space’s editorial policy.

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