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Trump offers additional assistance to Duterte

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MANILA (The Philippine Star) — In a recent phone call with President Rodrigo Duterte, his American counterpart Donald Trump offered additional assistance to the Philippines as it deals with the deadly coronavirus disease which first emerged in China late last year.

The U.S. Embassy in Manila confirmed that Duterte spoke with Trump on Sunday.

The embassy said Trump expressed his solidarity with Duterte as both countries deal with the pandemic that has infected more than 2.4 million people in 193 countries and territories.

"Both leaders agreed to continue working together as long-time allies to defeat the pandemic, save lives and restore global economic strength," the U.S. Embassy said in a statement Tuesday.

The U.S. leader also expressed condolences for the death of 11 Filipino soldiers killed in a clash with the Abu Sayyaf group in Patikul, Sulu on Friday.

"The two leaders also discussed how the United States and the Philippines can continue building upon the string and enduring economic, cultural and security ties binding the two nations," the statement read.

Presidential spokesperson Harry Roque described the U.S.-initiated phone call as "cordial."

According to Roque, the call from Trump lasted for 18 minutes. "The only authority I got from the president is to say that it was about cooperation — that the Philippines and the U.S. may cooperate on Covid-19," Roque said in a press briefing Monday.

Just last week, the U.S. government provided an additional $1.3 million to the Philippines to help in its fight against the new coronavirus.

The U.S., through the U.S. Agency for International Development or USAID, is also working with the Philippine Department of Health and other stakeholders to intensify efforts to control the outbreak.

"Through this additional assistance, USAID will augment its support for the country’s laboratory systems; intensify case-finding and event-based surveillance; fortify systems to prevent and control infections; expand risk communication; and support Filipino and international technical experts to enhance response and preparedness," USAID said in a media release.

The additional assistance from the Philippines is also expected to expand the country's testing capacity and provide the latest information about Covid-19 to Filipinos and health care providers.

The U.S. has so far provided more than $4 million in aid to the Philippines' response to Covid-19.

As of Monday afternoon, the Philippines had recorded 6,459 cases of Covid-19 with 613 recoveries and 428 deaths.

Meanwhile, the U.S. death toll climbed to 42,094 with more than 784,000 confirmed cases as of Tuesday morning (Manila time), according to the latest tally from John Hopkins University.

November 2020 pssnewsletter

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