PRESIDENT Duterte may be “persuaded” to attend a summit of the leaders of the United States and the Association of Southeast Asian Nations (ASEAN) to be held in Las Vegas in March, Chief Presidential Legal Counsel and spokesman Salvador Panelo said yesterday.
Panelo said Duterte mentioned receiving a personal invitation from US President Donald Trump to visit the US. The long-standing invitation for a visit was made in April 2017.
The 74-year-old President, has said he is averse to long flights. He has also said he is not keen on visiting the US amid criticisms from some American leaders about his administration’s war on drugs.
In July last year, Ambassador to the US Jose Romualdez said Duterte has indicated he would visit the US and it was “just a question of timing.”
In December 2018, Foreign Affairs Secretary Teodoro Locsin Jr. said the return of the Balangiga Bells by the US to the Philippines might convince the President to visit the US.
Panelo said the invitation this time is for the special summit that was sent to all ASEAN leaders.
“Given this is an ASEAN meeting of leaders, baka ma-persuade ang Presidente na umattend. But I will ask him (Given this is an ASEAN meeting of leaders, the President might be persuaded to attend. But I will ask him),” he said.
Malacañang, in a press release issued last Sunday, said Trump first issued an invitation to the ASEAN leaders on Nov. 1, 2019 and again last January 9.