Cannot make any definite promise: Duterte on Trump's invite

Indo Asian News Service

Manila, May 3 (IANS) The Philippines President Rodrigo said he may or may not accept the US President's invitation to the White House.

US President Donald Trump invited Duterte to Washington to discuss important bilateral relations, said the White House on Sunday following a "very friendly" telephone conversation between the two leaders, Efe news reported.

"I'm tied up I cannot make any definite promise...I'm supposed to go to Russia, Israel," said Duterte during a visit to the Chinese fleet in Davao on Monday.

Duterte's statement on President Donald Trump's invitation is seen to come at a time when the Philippines is giving priority to its relations with China.

The US government said it sought the support of Asian nations to isolate North Korea amid heightened tensions due to Kim Jong-un regime's missile tests and its continuation of nuclear weapons program.

Duterte, in his statement on Monday, also hinted at a possible engagement in the joint military drills with China in the west of Mindanao Island, a troubled region where pirates and Islamist terror groups remain active.

Three Chinese warships concluded a three-day visit to the Philippine port city of Davao on Monday in an attempt to strengthen the bilateral defence relations despite both being embroiled in the territorial disputes over sovereignty issue in the South China Sea.

The Philippine leader visited the Chinese President Xi Jinping in October and since then, both countries have strengthened their bilateral relations through several cooperation agreements.