UPDATE: Trump Boasts Of "Really Fantastic Job" As He Ends Asia Tour
MANILA (Alliance News) - US President Donald Trump wrapped up a tour of Asia in the Philippines on Tuesday by boasting of his "really fantastic job" in pushing for fairer trade deals and of rekindling ties with an old ally.
"It's been a really great 12 days, and I made a lot of great friends," he told reporters as they flew together out of Manila, where he attended a leaders' summit of the Association of South-East Asian Nations (ASEAN). "I think we have done a really fantastic job."
Trump said he made "a lot of progress" in pressing for fair and reciprocal trade deals with other countries.
Before leaving Manila, Trump tweeted that the Asia trip - which also brought him to Japan, China, South Korea and Vietnam - "will lead to fair trade deals, unlike the horror shows from past administrations."
One of Trump's first actions as president was to pull the US out of the Trans-Pacific Partnership (TPP), which was spearheaded by his predecessor Barack Obama. The deal has since been renamed and the 11 remaining countries are trying to keep the hamstrung treaty alive.
"After my tour of Asia, all countries dealing with us on trade know that the rules have changed," he added on Twitter.
Aside from trade, Trump said the trip was also "really good" in getting Asia-Pacific countries together for a tougher position against North Korea's nuclear weapons programme and missile tests.
Philippine President Rodrigo Duterte said terrorism and concerns over the North Korean peninsula were the main concerns discussed in the East Asia Summit in Manila, with leaders calling on Pyongyang to abandon its nuclear weapons programme.
"Everybody is scared that you will die from an explosion wherever," he told a press conference at the end of the summit. "We vowed to work closely."
On North Korea, Duterte said everyone was also worried about the tensions on the Korean Peninsula, adding, "There are dark clouds there. We better pray. The only refuge of our people is to pray if those bombs explode anywhere."
"We cannot afford war ... No one will win," he said. "Mankind will end up the loser."
Another important result of the trip was revitalizing Washington's relationship with the Philippines, Trump said, describing the former US colony as "an unbelievably important military location."
"We had no relationship for a long period of time in the Philippines, and now we have a very good relationship there," he said.
US-Philippine relations soured after Duterte took office last year, with the Obama administration criticizing his brutal war against drugs, and Duterte hurling personal insults at Obama.
Duterte said there has been a "forward movement" in Philippines-US relations following his meeting with Trump.
Hundreds of leftist activists, farmers and students protested Trump's visit to?the Philippines,?clashing with anti-riot police officers who blocked their daily attempts to march to the tightly-guarded venue of the summit.
Trump skipped the plenary session of the East Asia Summit, where leaders from the 10-member ASEAN are joined by counterparts from Japan, China, South Korea, New Zealand, Australia, India, Russia and the US.
"Our region is facing complex challenges that perhaps only a few have imagined decades ago," Duterte said at the start of the meeting.
"Technological developments and a more open economic region have resulted in our societies becoming more interconnected," he added. "So ... our problems become intertwined."
Duterte said the East Asia Summit was an important mechanism to boost cooperation in tackling such concerns as environmental degradation, armed conflict, climate change and terrorism.
"Cooperation established at the highest level will impact our pursuit of maintaining peace, security and prosperity of our regions," he said.
By Girlie Linao