PM Lee's first meeting with Duterte

PM Lee meeting Philippine President Duterte in Laos yesterday. They reaffirmed the long and close ties between both countries and looked forward to the celebrations of the golden jubilee of diplomatic relations in 2019.
PM Lee meeting Philippine President Duterte in Laos yesterday. They reaffirmed the long and close ties between both countries and looked forward to the celebrations of the golden jubilee of diplomatic relations in 2019.PHOTO: MINISTRY OF COMMUNICATIONS AND INFORMATION

Prime Minister Lee Hsien Loong met Philippine President Rodrigo Duterte yesterday morning, ahead of the opening of the 28th and 29th Asean Summits in the afternoon.

During the half-hour meeting, the first between the two leaders, PM Lee congratulated President Duterte on winning the presidential election.

Both leaders also reaffirmed the long and close ties between Singapore and the Philippines and looked forward to the celebrations of the golden jubilee of diplomatic relations in 2019, said Mr Lee's press secretary, Ms Chang Li Lin.

Mr Duterte's office said both leaders talked about the illegal drug trade and its effects. The Philippine President explained his country's drug problem to Mr Lee. They also touched on the topic of the West Philippine Sea, including the freedom of navigation operations in the South China Sea and the need for a peaceful settlement of disputes.

Mr Lee welcomed Mr Duterte to make a visit to Singapore.

Mr Duterte sparked controversy even before he left the Philippines for the annual Asean leaders meeting when he launched into a tirade against United States President Barack Obama for questioning his anti-crime extrajudicial killings.

The Philippines will take on the Asean chairmanship next year, with Laos set to formally pass the baton at the close of this year's summit tomorrow.

Lim Yan Liang

A version of this article appeared in the print edition of The Straits Times on September 07, 2016, with the headline 'PM Lee's first meeting with Duterte'. Print Edition | Subscribe