PM wel­comed Duterte in­vite


Lethbridge Herald - - HEADLINE NEWS - Andy Blatchford

Ro­drigo Duterte went “out on a limb” to se­cure a key in­vi­ta­tion for Justin Trudeau to at­tend a pres­ti­gious Asia-Pa­cific se­cu­rity event along­side pow­er­ful world lead­ers, gov­ern­ment of­fi­cials say.

But one se­nior in­sider in­sists the Philip­pine pres­i­dent’s help­ful ges­ture won’t have any im­pact on whether Trudeau con­fronts him about hu­man-rights vi­o­la­tions in the south­east Asian coun­try that have shocked peo­ple around the world.

Trudeau has hinted he might bring up the is­sue of hu­man rights with Duterte, if he gets the op­por­tu­nity.

The lead­ers have no one-on-one meet­ings planned while the prime min­is­ter is vis­it­ing the Philip­pines for sum­mits re­lated to the As­so­ci­a­tion of South­east Asian Na­tions.

Fran­cisco Fer­nan­dez of the Philip­pines em­bassy in Ot­tawa says Canada asked for the in­vi­ta­tion and Manila didn’t hes­i­tate to grant it, in part be­cause of trade and in­vest­ment ties and in part be­cause 837,000 peo­ple of Filipino de­scent live in Canada.

Thanks to Duterte’s ef­fort, Trudeau will have a cov­eted op­por­tu­nity to­day to par­tic­i­pate in a work­ing lunch in Manila ahead of an ASEANaf­fil­i­ated meet­ing known as the East Asia Sum­mit. Trudeau will join lead­ers from 18 coun­tries, in­clud­ing China, Rus­sia and the United States, to dis­cuss se­cu­rity is­sues.

It re­mains to be seen if Trudeau will chal­lenge Duterte face to face over his vi­o­lent drug war. Duterte’s bloody crack­down has in­cluded ex­tra­ju­di­cial killings by his gov­ern­ment that have left thou­sands dead.

“There are a range of is­sues that I could bring up with him, that I may bring up with him, if we have an op­por­tu­nity,” Trudeau said Satur­day in Danang, Viet­nam. “There’s al­ways hu­man rights con­cerns to bring up with a wide range of lead­ers.”

Fer­nan­dez said Duterte’s po­si­tion is clear: “He was elected on the plat­form that he would be ad­dress­ing the il­le­gal drugs sit­u­a­tion in the Philip­pines and that is what he’s do­ing.”

Trudeau’s ticket to to­day’s lun­cheon is a break­through be­cause no other Cana­dian prime min­is­ter has ever been in­vited. He’s ex­pected to dis­cuss North Korea and the vi­o­lent at­tacks on Ro­hingya Mus­lims in Myan­mar.

Even­tu­ally, Canada hopes to be­come a per­ma­nent mem­ber of the East Asia Sum­mit.

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