U.S. President Trump leaves PH, skips East Asian Summit

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Metro Manila (CNN Philippines, November 14) — U.S. President Donald Trump ended his trip in the Philippines Tuesday, ahead of the East Asia Summit.

He left the country for Washington, D.C. via the NAIA Balagbag ramp at 3:26 p.m., Manila International Airport Authority General Manager Ed Monreal said.

Addressing the press after the luncheon and before his flight, Trump thanked the Philippines for the warm welcome he received when he arrived in the country for meetings with the Association of Southeast Asian Nations (ASEAN).

In his speech, Trump took a jab at former President Barack Obama's administration, which did not get along with President Rodrigo Duterte.

"We were having a lot of problems with the Philippines. The relationship with the past administration was horrible — which is a nice word, I would say 'horrible' is putting it mildly," he said. "It's really important that we get along with the Philippines, and we really do. We have a very good relationship. I would actually say probably better than ever before."

Presidential spokesperson Harry Roque told the press on Monday that Duterte and Trump had "similar feelings" toward Obama.

Duterte previously cussed at Obama, telling him to "go to hell" after the former president criticized the Philippines' bloody war on drugs.

Trump added that the relationship with the Philippines was important "less over trade in this case than for military purposes."

"It is a strategic location, the most strategic location. If you look at it, it's called the most prized piece of real estate from the military standpoint," he said.

Officials said his warm relations with Duterte set the tone for Philippines-U.S. relations.

Roque confirmed Trump skipped the 12th East Asia Summit (EAS) plenary session — which the U.S. president had originally extended his Manila trip for.  However, the EAS Summit was delayed.

"EAS was supposed to be at 1:30. I believe he was sked (scheduled) to leave at 3 [o'clock] and did so," he said.

The East Asia Summit is considered the leading forum in the region where ASEAN leaders will exchange views with their counterparts from U.S., China, Russia, Japan, Korea, India, Australia and New Zealand on international and regional security concerns. The North Korean nuclear threat, terrorism, drug-trafficking, and transnational crimes, were among the topics expected to be discussed, the Foreign Affairs Department said.

Trump and Philippine President Rodrigo Duterte held their first bilateral meeting on Monday. The two world leaders talked about illegal drugs, free trade, and aid for the rehabilitation of war-torn Marawi City. They also briefly discussed human rights in the country, Philippine ambassador to the U.S. Babe Romualdez said.

"I think that that set the tone on how this relationship was going to be like. This personal meeting has just simply emphasized that we are on a different tone now as far as the relationship with the United States is concerned and I'm obviously very pleased about that," Romualdez told CNN Philippines' "The Source".

Romualdez gave the bilateral talks a rating of 9 out of 10, adding the two world leaders have "good chemistry."

"It was very good. I'm very happy with it and many of those that were present and all of those who obviously worked in making sure that this relationship stays tight and good are very happy with it," he said.

At the ASEAN Gala Dinner on Sunday, a clearly delighted Trump gave praise to the hospitality extended and the performances.

"Tremendous talent. Musical talent, dance talent, and we really had a tremendous time all of the leaders," he said.

Duterte sang Pinoy classic "Ikaw" on stage upon Trump's request.

Romualdez said the gala night hosted by the Philippines was one of the best he has seen in state dinners.

The U.S. leader's three-day stay in the country, was greeted by anti-Trump protests. Police managed to hold off hundreds of protesters from leftist groups several kilometers away from the summit venue.

Related: More protests happening as Trump is set to leave PH

Laos Prime Minister Thongloun Sisoulith left the country late Monday due to a scheduled state visit in Vientiane, Laos.