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Asean & Global Updates
POSTED | 14:36 PM | 13-11-2017

Trump hails ‘great ties’ with Duterte

Donald Trump declared on Monday (Nov 13, 2017) he had a “great relationship” with Philippine President Rodrigo Duterte, a self-proclaimed killer who is waging a drugs war that rights groups say involves mass murder, 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 dominated by the North Korean nuclear crisis.

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 drugs war, which has seen police and suspected vigilantes kill thousands of people, said AFP.

But in a series of encounters over Sunday and Monday, Trump and Duterte appeared to enjoy each other’s 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 spokesman 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 drugs war.

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