US President Trump says Philippines vital for military reasons

US President Donald Trump said Tuesday strong US ties with the Philippines were vital for military reasons.

The US president said he had repaired relations with the Philippines, which soured last year during the administration of former president Barack Obama.

Duterte blasted Obama for intervening in Philippine affairs when he criticized the Philippine president’s drug war.

“The (Philippines’) relationship with the past administration was horrible, to use a nice word.  I would say horrible is putting it mildly,” Trump told reporters.

“And now we have a very, very strong relationship with the Philippines, which is really important: less so for trade, in this case, than for military purposes.”

Trump appeared in a range of events on the sidelines of summits involving leaders from 19 nations in Manila, which was the last stop on a 12-day Asian tour.

He and Duterte clearly enjoyed each others’ company.

“We’ve had a great relationship. This has been very successful,” Trump told Duterte in brief opening remarks at their official meeting on Monday.

“I’ve really enjoyed being here.”

Trump then laughed as Duterte called the foreign and local media in the room “spies.”

Duterte also met with Trump in bilateral talks that lasted about 40 minutes.

Duterte and Trump also sat next to each other at a pre-summit banquet on Sunday, during which they smiled, chatted and clinked champagne glasses.

Duterte sang a Filipino love song at the dinner, saying light-heartedly that he did so on the orders of the US president. (Agence France Presse)