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Duterte hesitant on US visit

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DAVO: Philippine President Rodrigo Duterte said on Monday he may turn down an invitation by Donald Trump to visit the United States, as he welcomed three Chinese warships to his home town.


Duterte, who has loosened the Philippines’ long alliance with the United States while strengthening ties with China and Russia, said he could not commit to the American president because of a busy schedule that included a trip to Moscow.


“I am tied up. I cannot make any definite promise. I am supposed to go to Russia, I am supposed to go to Israel,” he told reporters when asked about Trump’s invitation made in a telephone call on Saturday.


Duterte expressed concerns about not being able to fit in a visit to Trump even though no firm date has yet been proposed for it.


Nevertheless, Duterte said relations with the United States were improving now that Trump had taken over from Barack Obama, who criticised the Philippine president for his anti-drug war that has claimed thousands of lives. Rights groups have warned Duterte may be orchestrating a crime against humanity, with police and vigilantes committing mass murder.


But Duterte insists his security forces are not breaking any laws.


Duterte declared while in Beijing last year that the Philippines had “separated” from the United States.


The United States is the Philippines’ former colonial ruler and the nations are bound by a mutual defence treaty.


Duterte said on Monday that


his efforts to loosen the alliance were only a response to the drug war criticism. — AFP


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