Trump in­vites Duterte for talks

New Straits Times - - World -

WASH­ING­TON: On Satur­day, United States Pres­i­dent Don­ald Trump in­vited his Philip­pine coun­ter­part to Wash­ing­ton in a “friendly” call in which the lead­ers dis­cussed Ro­drigo Duterte’s war on drugs and their coun­tries’ al­liance, the White House said.

Duterte has faced in­ter­na­tional con­dem­na­tion for his crack­down on crime, which has claimed thou­sands of lives and led to warn­ings from rights groups about a pos­si­ble crime against hu­man­ity.

The White House said the two lead­ers, both elected to of­fice last year, had “a very friendly con­ver­sa­tion” that in­cluded dis­cus­sion about the Philip­pine gov­ern­ment’s ef­forts to “rid its coun­try of drugs” and the re­gional se­cu­rity threat posed by North Korea.

“Pres­i­dent Trump in­vited Pres­i­dent Duterte to the White House to dis­cuss the im­por­tance of the US-Philip­pines al­liance, which is head­ing in a very pos­i­tive di­rec­tion.”

There has been con­cern about Duterte’s ef­forts to loosen his coun­try’s long-stand­ing al­liance with the US as he looks to court China.

Duterte has reg­u­larly hit out at the Philip­pines’ one-time colo­nial ruler for per­ceived hypocrisy over hu­man rights, and last year branded Barack Obama as a “son of a w **** ” for crit­i­cis­ing the drug war.

The White House said Trump “en­joyed the con­ver­sa­tion” with Duterte, and looked for­ward to at­tend­ing the key US-Asean and East Asia sum­mits in the Philip­pines in Novem­ber.

Vice-Pres­i­dent Mike Pence had an­nounced ear­lier this month that Trump would at­tend the Asian meet­ings as a sign of “un­wa­ver­ing com­mit­ment” to the re­gion. AFP

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