‘I like Ro­drigo, he’s a good guy’

The Philippine Star - - FRONT PAGE - By MARICHU VIL­LANUEVA

Be­fore board­ing Air Force One that would take him back to Washington, US Pres­i­dent Don­ald Trump yes­ter­day made sure his words would reach the ears of Pres­i­dent Duterte.

Sent off by Ex­ec­u­tive Sec­re­tary Sal­vador Me­di­aldea at the Ni­noy Aquino International Air­port (NAIA), Trump said, “Tell Ro­drigo I like him very much. He’s a good guy. I had a great time here.” Me­di­aldea, along with US Am­bas­sador

From Page 1 Sung Kim and Philip­pine Am­bas­sador to the US Jose Manuel Ro­mualdez led the send-off party at NAIA.

“I think it’s a very suc­cess­ful trip and the Philip­pines and the US re­la­tions are back on track,” Ro­mualdez said. He will fly to Washington on Mon­day to of­fi­cially start his tour of duty.

From the Sof­i­tel Philip­pine Plaza in Pasay City where he was bil­leted dur­ing his two-day stay in the coun­try for the 31st As­so­ci­a­tion of South­east Asian Na­tions (ASEAN) Sum­mit and Re­lated Meet­ings, Trump took the Marine One he­li­copter to NAIA.

Air Force One took off from the NAIA’s Balag­bag ramp at 3:26 p.m.

Be­fore he left, Trump de­liv­ered his fi­nal re­marks dur­ing the lunch with other lead­ers hosted by Duterte.

Trump skipped the East Asia Sum­mit (EAS) at the Philip­pine International Con­ven­tion Cen­ter (PICC), cit­ing the de­lay in the sched­ule of the meet­ing. Sec­re­tary of State Rex Tiller­son rep­re­sented Trump at the EAS, which was chaired by Duterte.

Trump at­tended the just-con­cluded ASEAN-US Sum­mit and had bi­lat­eral talks with Duterte last Mon­day night on the side­lines of the ASEAN Sum­mit held.

At the gala din­ner at the SMX Con­ven­tion Cen­ter last Sun­day, Duterte said Trump prompted him to join “Asia’s Queen of Songs” Pilita Cor­rales in singing “Ikaw.”

“Tremen­dous tal­ent. Mu­si­cal tal­ent, dance tal­ent, and we re­ally had a tremen­dous time, all of the lead­ers,” Trump said.

“The Filipino per­form­ers were great. But the great­est per­former was him,” Pres­i­den­tial Ad­viser on the Peace Process Je­sus Dureza, re­fer­ring to Duterte, quoted Trump as hav­ing told him while the lat­ter pointed his fin­ger to where Duterte was seated with part­ner Honeylet Avanceña.

Dureza said that he took a chance to en­gage Trump in a brief chat when the US Pres­i­dent passed by and shook hands with him af­ter the gala din­ner.

“I told him: you should prac­tice singing, too, so you could do a duet to­gether next time,” Dureza said.

To which Trump replied: “Great idea. I’ll do that.”

Dureza later joined the bi­lat­eral talks with Trump and his of­fi­cial del­e­ga­tion along with Me­di­aldea and other Cab­i­net of­fi­cials, in­clud­ing Ro­mualdez and Kim.

“The whole bi­lat­eral meet­ing showed clear good vibes be­tween the two lead­ers,” Dureza said.

‘Many good friends’

Over his two-day stay in the coun­try, Trump said he made “many good friends.”

In his Twit­ter post yes­ter­day, Trump said he also looks for­ward to forg­ing “fair trade deals” with ASEAN coun­tries and di­a­logue part­ners.

“Just ar­rived at #ASEAN50 in the Philip­pines for my fi­nal stop with world lead­ers. Will lead to fair trade deals un­like the hor­ror shows from past ad­min­is­tra­tions,” he said.

Trump was ap­par­ently re­fer­ring to the Trans-Pa­cific Part­ner­ship (TPP) that his pre­de­ces­sor Barack Obama had pushed for in the re­gion.

One of Trump’s first ac­tions as pres­i­dent was to quit TPP, a broad trade agree­ment with 11 other na­tions.

In their first bi­lat­eral meet­ing, Trump and Duterte discussed il­le­gal drugs, free trade and aid for the re­ha­bil­i­ta­tion of wartorn Marawi City.

They also briefly talked about hu­man rights in the coun­try, ac­cord­ing to Ro­mualdez.

The US leader ear­lier hailed his “great re­la­tion­ship” with the Philip­pine pres­i­dent.

‘Mak­ing Amer­ica great again’

For Trump, his Asian trip was all about mak­ing Amer­ica great again.

Yes­ter­day, he de­clared the suc­cess of his five-coun­try trip in the re­gion, say­ing all coun­tries deal­ing with the US know that the “rules have changed.”

“Will be leav­ing the Philip­pines (on Tues­day) af­ter many days of con­stant meet­ings and work in or­der to #MAGA (Make Amer­ica Great Again)! My prom­ises are rapidly be­ing ful­filled,” Trump tweeted.

“Af­ter my tour of Asia, all coun­tries deal­ing with us on trade know that the rules have changed. The United States has to be treated fairly and in a re­cip­ro­cal fash­ion. The mas­sive trade deficits must go down quickly!” he added.

The US pres­i­dent cam­paigned on a plat­form of bring­ing back jobs in the US, crit­i­ciz­ing var­i­ous deals made by his pre­de­ces­sor.

De­tails of the deals made by Trump dur­ing his trip to Ja­pan, South Korea, China, Viet­nam and the Philip­pines have yet to be re­leased.

But in the joint state­ment is­sued by the Philip­pines and the US af­ter the bi­lat­eral meet­ing of Trump and Pres­i­dent Duterte, it was men­tioned that the two lead­ers agreed to deepen the eco­nomic re­la­tion­ship of the long-time al­lies.

“The two lead­ers pledged to nur­ture eco­nomic ties, in­clud­ing pri­vate sec­tor co­op­er­a­tion, to cre­ate jobs and op­por­tu­ni­ties for peo­ple in both coun­tries. To this end, both sides will ex­plore strength­en­ing di­a­logues for in­no­va­tion and shar­ing of best prac­tices in tech­nol­ogy to op­ti­mize the po­si­tion of the Philip­pines as a pre­ferred des­ti­na­tion for Amer­i­can in­vest­ments in the Asia-Pa­cific re­gion,” the joint state­ment read.

The state­ment said the US wel­comed the Philip­pines’ in­ter­est in a bi­lat­eral free trade agree­ment and that both sides agreed to dis­cuss the mat­ter fur­ther through the US-Philip­pines Trade and In­vest­ment Frame­work Agree­ment.

Trump also held meet­ings with Ja­panese Prime Min­is­ter Shinzo Abe, Aus­tralian Prime Min­is­ter Mal­colm Turn­bull and In­dian Prime Min­is­ter Naren­dra Modi dur­ing his visit to the Philip­pines.

AP

US Pres­i­dent Don­ald Trump waves good­bye at the NAIA as he en­ters Air Force One yes­ter­day.

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