Philippines' President Duterte may be too 'tied up' to attend meeting with Donald Trump

Tareq Haddad
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Philippines President Rodrigo Duterte may reject US President Donald Trump's invitation to the White House, saying he may be too "tied up" to attend.

The controversial figure who has led a bloody drug war fell out of favour with former President Barack Obama, but has appeared to strike up a closer relationship with Trump since he took office.

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The pair reportedly held a phone call on Saturday (29 April) where the issue of North Korea was discussed, but where Trump also caused outrage by inviting the leader for a formal visit.

However, speaking to reporters in Davao City on Monday, Duterte said he is unsure if he can attend.

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"I'm tied up," he said, reported the Philippines Star. "I cannot make any definite promise."

Duterte referred to previously scheduled trips as a reason for his potential denial, with upcoming trips planned for Cambodia to attend the World Economic Forum and to China for the One Belt, One Road Summit.

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He is also due to meet with Russian President Vladimir Putin at the end of May with a later meeting due to be finalised with Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu.

Duterte won domestic approval for his tough-talking style towards the US, but said his conflict was with Obama and not the country as a whole. He previously raised eyebrows when he referred to the US president as a "son of a whore" and told him to "go to hell".

"Things have changed, the new leadership wants to make friends," Duterte said. "[Trump] wants to make friends and he says that we are friends. So, why do you have to pick a fight?"

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