DFA chief reveals return of Balangiga bells crucial to Duterte's U.S. visit

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Metro Manila (CNN Philippines, November 15) — Foreign Affairs Secretary Teddy Boy Locsin revealed on Wednesday the reason why the President has not made a visit to the United States.

"Nikki Haley asked me last year, Why is your president still not coming to the U.S.? I said, He never will until the Bells of Balangiga are returned," Locsin said in a tweet.

Haley and Locsin were both former Ambassadors of the United States and the Philippines, respectively, to the United nations.

"She took note and added when we get the bells, no more excuse not to accept Trump's invitation," Locsin said.

The U.S. has turned over the historical bells on Wednesday. Philippine Ambassador to the U.S. Babe Romualdez said the three bells seized by American soldiers in the 1901 Balangiga masscre will hopefully be back in the Philippines by the end of 2018.

President Rodrigo Duterte said the U.S. must return the bells, emphasizing this in his second State of the Nation Address in 2017.

U.S. President Donald Trump first invited Duterte to the White House in April 2017. Since then, however, no trip has been scheduled to the United States.

The two presidents have already met in Manila during the Philippines' chairmanship of the 31 Association of Southeast Asian Nations (ASEAN) Summit in November 2017.