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Trump invites Philippines' controversial Duterte to White House in 'friendly' call

© Mandel Ngan, AFP file picture | US President Donald Trump spoke to his Philippine counterpart Rodrigo Duterte as he celebrated 100 days in office on Saturday, April 29, 2017

Text by FRANCE 24

Latest update : 2017-04-30

US President Donald Trump on Saturday invited his Philippine counterpart Rodrigo Duterte to the US in a "friendly" call in which the leaders discussed the "threat" of North Korea and the "war on drugs", the White House said.

The announcement comes amid rising tensions over Pyongyang's nuclear and missile programs following its latest test-fire, as well international criticism of Duterte's drug crackdown that has claimed thousands of lives.

"It was a very friendly conversation, in which the two leaders discussed the concerns of the Association of Southeast Asian Nations (ASEAN) regarding regional security, including the threat posed by North Korea," the statement said.

The leaders also "discussed the fact that the Philippine government is fighting very hard to rid its country of drugs, a scourge that affects many countries throughout the world."

The Philippine president has relentlessly railed against criticism of his drug war, which Amnesty International and other rights groups have warned may amount to a crime against humanity.

Over 6,000 killed in Duterte's war on drugs

Duterte, 71, won the presidential election after promising during the campaign to eradicate drugs in society by killing tens of thousands of people.

At his election he pledged to introduce executions by hanging as part of a ruthless law-and-order crackdown that would also include ordering military snipers to kill suspected criminals.

Philippine police killings are 'based on reward'

The president launched the crackdown immediately after taking office in June and the police at the end of February reported killing 2,555 drug suspects since his election, with about 4,000 more murdered in unexplained circumstances.

Duterte last year branded then US president Barack Obama a "son of a whore" for criticising the drug war, and more recently called European lawmakers "crazies" for issuing a statement condemning the killings.

Trump 'enjoyed conversation'

The White House said Trump "enjoyed the conversation" and looks forward to attending the key US-ASEAN and East Asia summits in the Philippines in November.

"President Trump also invited President Duterte to the White House to discuss the importance of the United States-Philippines alliance, which is now heading in a very positive direction."

There has been concern about Duterte's efforts to loosen the Philippines' long-standing alliance with the United States as he looks to court China.

Vice President Mike Pence had announced earlier this month that Trump would attend the Asian meetings as a sign of "unwavering commitment" to the region.

(FRANCE 24 with AFP)

Date created : 2017-04-30

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