Obama, Duterte affirm alliance


Pedestrians walk past a Philippine flag tarpaulin bearing the image of incoming president Rodrigo Duterte along a main road in Davao City yesterday. Miguel de Guzman
Rody eyes bilateral talks with China

DAVAO CITY, Philippines – US President Barack Obama became the first head of government to congratulate Rodrigo Duterte, relaying at the same time Washington’s congratulations for the conduct of the May 9 elections.

Obama called Duterte on Tuesday night to congratulate him for winning the presidential race. The two reaffirmed the two countries’ strong alliance.

“I assured him that we will continue with our mutual interests and that we are allied with the Western (world) in this issue on the South China Sea,” Duterte told reporters, saying he was honored to receive the congratulatory call.

He informed Obama of his plan to talk with China in an effort to resolve as soon as possible the maritime dispute.

“If it goes on still waters, I said, if there’s no wind to move the sail, I might opt to go bilateral,” Duterte said.

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He added Obama urged him to wait for the result of the arbitration before a United Nations tribunal in The Hague.

In a statement, Washington said Obama noted that the successful election and record voter participation were emblematic of the Philippines’ vibrant democracy.

The White House said Obama highlighted the enduring values that underpin America’s thriving alliance with the Philippines and “the longstanding ties between our two peoples, including our shared commitments to democracy, human rights, rule of law and inclusive economic growth.”

The two leaders affirmed their interest in seeing the relationship continue to grow on the basis of these shared principles.

Obama’s call came ahead of US Ambassador Philip Goldberg’s visit to Duterte anytime this week.

It was Russian Ambassador Igor Anatolyevich Khovaev’s turn to visit Duterte yesterday at the Matina Enclaves Residences in the city. The ambassadors of China, Japan and Israel had earlier paid a courtesy call on the incoming president.