JANUARY 23, 2020 — President Rodrigo Duterte on Thursday said he will skip the summit meeting between the United States and the 10-member Association of Southeast Asian Nations (ASEAN) in Las Vegas in March, seen as a snub to Donald Trump as he brought back his hurt feelings more than three years ago.
In an exclusive interview with Moscow-based Russia Today, the maverick leader said he was not keen on going to go to the United States to hold talks with US president and other Southeast Asian leaders.
Duterte said he wasn’t keen on “making friends” with the Americans as he said he had wished, recalling U.S. President Barack Obama’s criticism of the Philippine government’s campaign against illegal drugs.
“One time, when I was being criticized by Obama in a press conference, he should have realized that I was also head of a sovereign state,” said Duterte.
The chief executive said Obama should have picked a proper venue to criticize Duterte such as the United Nations instead of “castigating” him in a press conference.
In a press briefing earlier today, Presidential Spokesman Salvador Panelo said Duterte has yet to decide on the invitation, worried he may not be granted a visa to enter the United States.
Panelo, who is also the chief presidential legal counsel, told reporters the president was not sure if he was covered by a travel ban imposed by Washington after the U.S. Senate passed a resolution slapping sanctions on Filipino officials behind the detention of a sitting opposition legislator.
“Dalawa na yata (invitations), ‘di ba? And then there was this uproar about the senators introducing provisions in the budget in relation to Miss (Leila) De Lima. He has to ponder over it (the invitation). Some U.S. senators would be unhappy seeing him there,” said Panelo.
Panelo also said Duterte has yet to secure a visa and is unsure whether the United States will even grant him one.
While Panelo said he believes Duterte would want to attend the Summit, he also said the President is not keen on traveling to the United States for “personal reasons.”
Last November, US President Donald Trump skipped the ASEAN summit merting in Bangkok.
But his representative there announced Trump’s invitation to meet in the US during the first quarter in 2020.
At the ASEAN foreign ministers’ meeting in Nha Trang last week, it was agreed to welcome Trump’s invitation to hold talks in Las Vegas on March 14.
However, the foreign ministers agreed to let the leaders decide to go to the US or not.
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