Trump bud­dies up to Duterte

But U.S. pres­i­dent does not high­light hu­man rights is­sue.

Austin American-Statesman - - MORE OF TODAY’S TOP NEWS - By Jonathan Lemire and Jill Colvin

Wind­ing down his visit to Asia, Pres­i­dent Don­ald Trump re­peat­edly praised Philippine Pres­i­dent Ro­drigo Duterte, called him by his first name, shared a joke with him about the me­dia and even com­pli- mented Manila’s weather. What he did not do Mon­day was what many of his pre­de­ces­sors made a point of do­ing while abroad: pub- licly high­light hu­man rights abuses.

Duterte has over­seen a bloody drug war that has fea­tured ex­tra­ju­di­cial killings. But dur­ing brief remarks to re­porters, Trump said he and Duterte have “had a great re­la­tion­ship,” and he avoided ques­tions about whether he’d raise hu­man rights con­cerns with the Fil- ipino leader dur­ing a pri­vate meet­ing on the side- lines of a sum­mit of South- east Asian lead­ers.

The White House later said the two lead­ers dis­cussed the Is­lamic State group, il­le­gal drugs and trade dur­ing the 40-minute meet­ing. Press Sec­re­tary Sarah Huck­abee San­ders said hu­man rights came up “briefly” in the con­text of the Philip­pines’ fight against il­le­gal drugs, but she did not say if Trump was crit­i­cal of Duterte’s pro­gram.

That ap­peared to con­flict with the Filipino ver­sion of the meet­ing. Harry Roque, a spokesman for Duterte, said: “There was no men­tion of hu­man rights. There was no men­tion of ex­trale­gal killings. There was only a rather lengthy dis­cus­sion of the Philippine war on drugs with Pres­i­dent Duterte do­ing most of the ex­plain­ing.”

De­spite all that, they later is­sued a joint state­ment say­ing that “the two sides un­der­scored that hu­man rights and the dig­nity of hu­man life are es­sen­tial, and agreed to con­tinue main­stream­ing the hu­man rights agenda in their na­tional pro­grams.”

Trump said the Asia trip had been “very fruit­ful” for the United States.

MANAN VATSYAYANA / AP

Thai­land’s Prime Min­is­ter Prayuth Chan-ocha (from left), Viet­nam’s Prime Min­is­ter Nguyen Xuan Phuc, Don­ald Trump, Philippine Pres­i­dent Ro­drigo Duterte and Sin­ga­pore’s Prime Min­is­ter Lee Hsien Loong at­tend the ASEANU.S. Sum­mit in Manila on Mon­day.

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