Trump hails great relationship with Duterte
US president ends visit across Asia by declaring it a ‘fruitful trip’
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.