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Aide: Trump Invited Philippine Leader to WH

According to an aide in the Trump administration, Donald Trump has invited Philippine President Rodrigo Duterte to the White House next year.

The Hill reports:

President-elect Donald Trump spoke with Philippine President Rodrigo Duterte by phone on Friday and asked him to visit the U.S. next year, an aide for the Philippine leader said Friday.

Trump invited Duterte to the White House during a “very engaging” and “animated” talk, the Duterte aide said, according to Reuters. The pair reportedly spoke for seven minutes by phone.

The aide said that Duterte also invited Trump to visit his country next year as part of the Association for South East Asian Nations (ASEAN), Reuters reported, noting that it’s customary for the U.S. president to attend the meeting.

Duterte has repeatedly clashed with President Obama this year over the former’s handling of the Philippines’s war on drugs. The struggle has drawn international concern with thousands reported dead.
Duterte in September angrily warned Obama against questioning his management of the situation before a scheduled meeting in Laos.

“Who does he think he is?” Duterte said when asked about Obama on Sept. 5. “I am no American puppet. I am the president of a sovereign country and I am not answerable to anyone except the Filipino people. Son of a b—-, I will swear at you.”

The comments came after Duterte was asked how he would explain to Obama the Philippine government’s use of extrajudicial killings. More than 2,000 suspected drug dealers and users have been killed since Duterte took office in late June and vowed to take a hardline stance on narcotics.

Obama responded to Duterte’s tirade by canceling their huddle and reaffirming his opposition to extrajudicial killings.

“Fighting narco-trafficking is tough,” Obama told reporters in China in September. “But we will always assert the need to have due process and to engage that fight against drugs in a way that’s consistent with basic international norms.

“And so, undoubtedly, if and when we have a meeting, this is something that’s going to be brought up, and my expectation, my hope is, is that it could be dealt with constructively.”

Duterte last month, meanwhile, canceled a purchase of police rifles from the U.S. after Senate aides said Washington was halting the sale over human rights concerns.

The State Department in October reportedly halted the sale of some 26,000 assault rifles to the Philippine national police after Sen. Ben Cardin (D-Md.) vowed to oppose it. Cardin, the ranking Democrat on the Senate Foreign Relations Committee, voiced concern over human rights in the Philippines.

Photo credit: Gage Skidmore/Flickr.

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