DU30 as as­tute diplo­mat

Sun.Star Cebu - - OPINION - ED­DIE BARRITA ed­bar­rita@gmail.com

Pres­i­dent Rody Duterte showed his as­tute diplo­mat skills as chair­man of the 31st As­so­ci­a­tion of South­east Asian Na­tions (Asean) Sum­mit in Manila from Nov. 12 to 14.

The sum­mit brought to­gether 19 world lead­ers, in­clud­ing those from the 10-mem­ber Asean re­gional bloc.

Ev­ery­thing in the sum­mit was, of course, chore­ographed by ex­pe­ri­enced diplo­mats. But the pres­i­dent played his role so well.

He pulled a coup of sorts when he sang the love song “Ikaw” with pop diva Pilita Cor­rales at the gala din­ner for the lead­ers on Sun­day night ahead of the sum­mit’s for­mal open­ing.

He said he sang “upon the or­ders of the com­man­der in chief of the United States.”

That must have dis­armed U.S. Pres­i­dent Don­ald Trump, who didn’t raise the is­sue of hu­man rights pub­licly dur­ing his visit.

Trump even praised Pres­i­dent Duterte’s host­ing of the Asean sum­mit, which he said has been “han­dled beau­ti­fully.”

“We very much ap­pre­ci­ate the great treat­ment that you have given. I thought last night’s event was fan­tas­tic, tremen­dous tal­ent,” he said.

Trump said he and other lead­ers had a “tremen­dous time” dur­ing the gala din­ner. “So I think in be­half of the lead­ers, and ev­ery­body, I want to thank you and I want to thank the Philip­pines.”

Pres­i­dent Duterte once called for­mer U.S. Pres­i­dent Bar­rack Obama a “son of a whore.” There were no ex­ple­tives this time.

Pres­i­den­tial Spokesper­son Harry Roque said Duterte and Trump had a “frank dis­cus­sion” dur­ing their 40-minute bi­lat­eral meet­ing on Mon­day.

“Pres­i­dent Trump specif­i­cally said that he has al­ways been a friend of the Duterte ad­min­is­tra­tion un­like the pre­vi­ous ad­min­is­tra­tions of the United States,” Roque said.

Roque said there was no men­tion of hu­man rights vi­o­la­tions and ex­tra­ju­di­cial killings dur­ing the Duerte-Trump meet­ing.

They prob­a­bly speak the same lan­guage and quickly un­der­stood each other.

But who can be­friend both U.S. Pres­i­dent Don­ald Trump and Rus­sian Pres­i­dent Vladimir Putin?

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