Trump hails great re­la­tion­ship with Duterte

US pres­i­dent ends visit across Asia by declar­ing it a ‘fruit­ful trip’

Global Times US Edition - - WORLD -

US Pres­i­dent Don­ald Trump de­clared Mon­day he had a “great re­la­tion­ship” with Philip­pine Pres­i­dent Ro­drigo Duterte 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.

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 drug war.

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 or­ga­ni­za­tion 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 spokesper­son later said re­peat­edly that Trump did not bring up any hu­man rights con­cerns in the meet­ing, which lasted about 40 min­utes.

He said the US leader nod­ded as he lis­tened to Duterte speak­ing about his drug war

Trump also said on Mon­day he had made sig­nif­i­cant progress on trade is­sues dur­ing a fruit­ful trip across Asia that saw gov­ern­ments roll out red car­pets “like no­body has ever seen.”

“We’ve made some very big steps with re­spect to trade, far big­ger than any­thing you know,” Trump told re­porters in Manila on the side­lines of the ASEAN sum­mit.

He said a state­ment would be is­sued from the White House on Wed­nes­day about North Korea, and on trade, key is­sues of a trip he de­scribed as fruit­ful.

“It was red car­pet like no­body, I think, has prob­a­bly ever seen,” he said.

In Viet­nam at the week­end, Trump and lead­ers of Pa­cific Rim na­tions agreed to ad­dress “un­fair trade prac­tices” and “mar­ket – dis­tort­ing subsi- dies,” a state­ment that bore the im­print of Trump’s ef­forts to re­shape the global trade land­scape.

On the side­lines of the Viet­nam meet­ing, 11 coun­tries kept alive a Trans Pa­cific trade deal whose fu­ture was thrown into doubt when Trump with­drew from it in the name of pro­tect­ing Amer­i­can jobs.

Trump blasted the World Trade Or­ga­ni­za­tion and mul­ti­lat­eral trade deals dur­ing his tour.

Some an­a­lysts ex­pect tougher US ac­tion may be im­mi­nent to fight trade im­bal­ances with China.

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