Philippines leader also keen to meet Vladimir Putin
The Philippine president, who has lashed out at US counterpart Barack Obama for criticising his deadly crackdown on drugs, said his ties with the United States are likely to improve under Donald Trump.
And Rodrigo Duterte said that he is also excited to meet Russian leader Vladimir Putin at an upcoming Asia-Pacific summit.
Duterte made upbeat remarks about both the president-elect and Putin at a news conference in Manila.
Asked whether his ties with America can improve under Trump, Duterte replied: “I’m sure, we have no quarrel. I can always be a friend to anybody, especially to a... president, chief executive of another country.”
Duterte, who has been compared to Trump because of his irreverence toward rivals and critics, said he trusted the US president-elect’s judgment and expected him to be fair in dealing with people living in the US illegally.
Filipinos are one of the largest expatriate groups in the United States.
His friendly remarks were a departure from his comments on the campaign trail in March, when he took offence at being compared to Trump.
“Donald Trump is a bigot, I am not,” Duterte said, referring to Trump’s proposals to ban Muslims from entering the US and erect a wall along the Mexican border.
Duterte, 71, has had a frosty relationship with Obama and the US government since US officials expressed reservations about his anti-drug war, which is thought to have left more than 4,000 people dead since July.
He has told Obama to “go to hell” and announced his “separation” from America.
His push away from Washington has been accompanied by approaches to China and Russia.
Duterte said he is looking forward to meeting with Putin at this month’s Asia Pacific Economic Cooperation summit in Peru, and wants the two countries to have stronger ties.
“I will not ask for anything. I want to be friends with him, I just want the two countries to be the best of friends,” he said.
ALIKE: Duterte has been compared to Trump