Trump focuses on trade, fighting terrorism with Duterte

Elias Hubbard
November 16, 2017

The two leaders did talk about the country's brutal war on drugs, which has left thousands of people dead.

During remarks to reporters, Mr. Trump also said he and Duterte have "a great relationship" but avoided questions regarding human rights issues. While broadcasting from the U.N. climate conference in Bonn, Germany, DN! speaks with Tetet Lauron, program manager for climate justice at IBON International, who was a member of the Philippines delegation to the United Nations climate summits from 2011 to 2013.

The ASEAN leaders also will reiterate their "grave concern" over North Korea's development of "weapons of mass destruction, including nuclear and chemical weapons, and ballistic missile technologies", and press their strong condemnation of terrorism in the communique. He called Barack Obama a "son of a whore".

Trump heads for the US later Tuesday.

Trump spokeswoman Sarah Huckabee Sanders said human rights were raised "briefly".

That appeared to conflict with the Philippines' version of the meeting.

In a joint statement released on Monday, Trump and Duterte made no mention of the two airbases but reiterated their commitment to upholding freedom of navigation in the strategic sea and agreed to refrain from actions that would escalate tensions, including militarization. There was no mention of extralegal killings.

Duterte on Monday also thanked Russian Federation for supplying guns and other weapons that he said helped defeat Islamist militants in the southern Philippine city of Marawi.

Duterte cursed Trump's predecessor, Barack Obama, past year for raising concerns about the war on drugs and he subsequently declared that he was breaking with the United States, a close ally of the Philippines since World War Two. The government has even been accused of paying vigilantes to kill drug users.

"I just wanted to congratulate you because I am hearing of the unbelievable job on the drug problem", Trump told Duterte, according to a transcript of the conversation that later leaked.

The former reality TV star had initially planned to skip the summit, then backtracked after criticism it could be seen as a snub. Meanwhile, Duterte was openly critical of Obama in the final year of his presidency, including cursing his name.

Trump's speech at the Apec regional forum in Danang, praised in advance by the White House, was at times reminiscent of his election campaign rallies on the theme of "America First". Trump raved about his accomplishments on his five-nation journey, particularly on trade and on North Korea, which the White House has suggested may be designated a state sponsor of terror.

Human rights groups have expressed dismay at Trump's public silence, believing that the spotlight an American president can shine on human rights abuses overseas can rally pressure on an authoritarian regime to change its ways.

He added: "Among other things, we remembered the history of our relations with the U.S., WW II, some other issues".

Other reports by Click Lancashire

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