President Duterte has said a visit to the United States and his “friend” Donald Trump is just a matter of “scheduling”.
This appears to be a softening of his previous hardline stance against visiting the Philippines’ traditional ally.
President Duterte has previously vowed never go to the “lousy” USA during his term after President Obama criticised his war on drugs. With a new man in the White House, this stand now appears to be changing.
Speaking at a regional climate change conference in Davao today (Wednesday, July 25), he said: “He [Trump] is my friend and of course 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.”
However, the president said he was not looking forward to the long-haul flight from Manila to Washington. “The long haul 13 to 14 hours would kill me,” he said.
Sung Kim, the US Ambassador to the Philippines, has also said that a presidential visit was just a “question of scheduling”.
Also in today’s speech, the president apparently took a swipe at White House policy by warning nations against “egging Iran to go to war”.
Trump tweets Rouhani
Although he did not specifically mention any country or world leader, the remarks come just days after President Trump warned Iranian President Hassan Rouhani of “consequences” in a fiery all-caps tweet.
“Then they should stop egging Iran to go to war because then if that’s what will happen, even a few hundred missiles, nuclear then there’s no use talking about climate change,” said Duterte on Wednesday, July 25.
“A nuclear explosion every time it is done eats, erodes the dignity of the earth altogether,” he added.
The president, himself something of a firebrand, then called for “sobriety” and “cooler heads” in order to avoid a nuclear war.
“It behooves upon the leaders of nations who are really there and who can make the change. They can do much and we appreciate nations who approach the problem in sobriety and understanding and providing the cooler heads, so to speak,” he said.
On Sunday, President Trump threatened Iran’s Rouhani of severe “consequences” after Rouhani delivered a speech warning the US that any confrontation would lead to the “mother of all wars”.
Rouhani was reacting to looming US sanctions on Iranian oil exports. These followed Washington’s withdrawal from the 2015 Iran nuclear deal.
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USA invitation: From 6m 30s
Egging Iran: From 14m 50s