Trump hails re­la­tion­ship with Duterte

The New Indian Express - - FRONT PAGE -

Don­ald Trump on Mon­day de­clared that he had a “great re­la­tion­ship” with Philippine Pres­i­dent Ro­drigo Duterte, a self-pro­claimed killer who is wag­ing a drugs war that rights groups say in­volves mass mur­der, as the lead­ers joked with each other in Manila. “We are your ally. We are an im­por­tant ally,” Duterte said, ap­pear­ing to con­firm re­la­tions were back on track, al­though he has also con­tin­ued to court China and Rus­sia.

DON­ALD Trump de­clared Mon­day he had a “great re­la­tion­ship” with Philippine Pres­i­dent Ro­drigo Duterte, a self­pro­claimed killer who is wag­ing a drugs war that rights groups say in­volves mass mur­der, as the lead­ers joked with each other in Manila.

The US pres­i­dent is in the Philip­pines with lead­ers of 18 other na­tions for two days of sum­mits, the fi­nal leg of a head­line-grab­bing Asian tour dom­i­nated by the North Korean nu­clear cri­sis.

Al­le­ga­tions of Rus­sian med­dling in last year’s US pres­i­den­tial elec­tions have dogged the sec­ond half of his 12-day trip, which has taken him from Ja­pan to South Korea, China and Viet­nam.

Rights groups had called on Trump to end his Asian jour­ney with a strong state­ment against Duterte’s drugs war, which has seen po­lice and sus­pected vig­i­lantes kill thou­sands of peo­ple.

But in a se­ries of en­coun­ters over Sun­day and Mon­day, Trump and Duterte ap­peared to en­joy each oth­ers’ com­pany, lead­ing to warm praise from the US pres­i­dent dur­ing of­fi­cial talks at lunchtime.

“We’ve had a great re­la­tion­ship. This has been very suc­cess­ful,” Trump told Duterte in brief open­ing remarks at their meet­ing.

Trump praised Duterte for his or­gan­i­sa­tion of the sum­mits, say­ing he han­dled them “beau­ti­fully”.

“I’ve re­ally en­joyed be­ing here,” he said.

As the re­porters were be­ing es­corted out of the room, one asked if Trump would raise the is­sue of hu­man rights, to which Duterte jok­ingly called the me­dia “spies”. Both laughed but nei­ther an­swered.

Duterte’s spokesman later said re­peat­edly that Trump did not bring up any hu­man rights con­cerns in the meet­ing, which lasted about 40 min­utes.

He said the United States leader nod­ded as he lis­tened to Duterte speak­ing about his drugs.

How­ever Trump spokes­woman Sarah Huck­abee San­ders said hu­man rights were raised, al­though “briefly”. Duterte won elec­tions last year af­ter promis­ing to erad­i­cate il­le­gal drugs with an un­prece­dented cam­paign that would see up to 100,000 peo­ple killed.

Since he took of­fice, po­lice have re­ported killing 3,967 peo­ple in the crack­down.

An­other 2,290 peo­ple have been mur­dered in dru­gre­lated crimes, while thou­sands of other deaths re­main un­solved, ac­cord­ing to gov­ern­ment data.

At the age of 16, I al­ready killed some­one. A real per­son, a rum­ble, a stab­bing. I was just 16 years old. It was just over a look Ro­drigo Duterte

AFP

(L-R) Rus­sian Prime Min­is­ter Dmitry Medvedev, Viet­nam’s Prime Min­is­ter Nguyen Xuan Phuc, US Pres­i­dent Don­ald Trump, Philippine Pres­i­dent Ro­drigo Duterte and Aus­tralia Prime Min­is­ter Mal­colm Turn­bull join hands for a photo dur­ing the open­ing cer­e­mony of the 31st As­so­ci­a­tion of South East Asian Na­tions (ASEAN) Sum­mit in Manila on Mon­day |

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