Trump invites controversial Philippine leader Duterte to the White House
Signaling what's perhaps a warming relationship between their two countries, President Trump invited the controversial leader of the Philippines to the White House in a phone call Saturday.
The two leaders had “a very friendly conversation” in which they talked about the North Korea threat, according to the White House's readout of the call. The two men, who have drawn comparisons for their tough rhetoric, also discussed the Philippine government's fight against drugs.
What remained unmentioned, however, are the extrajudicial killings of suspected drug dealers and users as part of the government's drug war. Thousands have been killed by police and vigilantes since Duterte took office and vowed to eradicate his country's massive drug problem. The rising death toll has drawn criticisms from international human rights groups, at least one of which, the Human Rights Watch, has made the case for a criminal investigation of the Duterte administration.
The relationship between the United States and the Philippines soured under President Barack Obama, who criticized Duterte's bloody war on drugs. Not one to take criticism lightly, Duterte snapped at Obama on a few occasions, telling him to “go to hell” and, at one point, using the Tagalog phrase for “son of a bitch” or “son of a whore” when addressing the then-U. S. president. In September, Obama canceled a meeting with Duterte, whom he called a "colorful guy."
With Trump at the helm, the relationship between the two countries seems to be shifting.
In a brief phone call in December about the drug war, then-President-elect Trump told Duterte that he was doing it the “right way,” according to the Philippine president's account of the conversation.
The White House said that the relationship between the two countries “is now heading in a very positive direction” and that Trump is looking forward to visiting the Philippines in November during the East Asia and U.S.-Association of South East Asian Nations, Post too long. Click here to view the full text.