Philippines says Trump called Duterte to affirm alliance

Kristopher Drake
May 3, 2017

"The ambit of the conversation between the two leaders includes the expression of commitment of US President Trump to the PH-US alliance and his interest in developing a warm, working relationship with President Duterte", presidential spokesman Ernesto Abella said. "A lot of people, I'm sure, tried to take that power away, whether it was his uncle or anybody else".

But both nations are long-standing allies that grew estranged from Washington because of democratic backsliding in those countries.

United States President Donald Trump is eager to visit Manila this November to further advance the alliance between the United States and the Philippines.

Trump's early decision to withdraw the US from a pan-Pacific trade pact dismayed Southeast Asia, a major destination for USA overseas investment.

In defence, Trump administration clarifies that Duterte's cooperation was needed to counter North Korea.

Trump has been all over the map on North Korea in recent days.

When pressed about Duterte's history on human rights, Priebus deflected.

Based on his presidential campaign, few expected Trump to be a champion of worldwide civil society, but his record to date has been surprisingly poor, said Adams. "We can survive without American money", he said.

In Southeast Asia, the Trump administration's considerations have been broadening.

Trump called Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan earlier this month, to congratulate him on a victory that gave the authoritarian leader increased power, and the two are scheduled to meet in person in Washington next month.

Governments in the region are more concerned about China than North Korea, which has allowed the make strategic inroads. His killing spree, however, didn't amuse former President Barack Obama. In his call for the murder of people who use or sell drugs, he promised medals for citizens who comply, and pardons for police if they are charged with human rights violations while carrying out the executions. During Obama's final months in office, the Philippine president moved to build closer economic ties with China and Russian Federation while repeatedly threatening to end his nation's longstanding military alliance with the U.S.

Duterte's comments came shortly after he visited three Chinese warships visiting his home town, the southern city of Davao on Mindanao island.

Duterte on Monday also repeated that he was open to joint military exercises between the Philippines and China. Thailand, a traditional US military hub, last week announced plans to buy a Chinese submarine.

The White House statement noted that Trump and Duterte discussed the country's war on drugs, The Hill magazine reported. Speaking at a G20 meeting in China, Obama responded to Duterte's statement: "Clearly he's a colorful guy".

According to the White House's readout of the call between Mr. Trump and Duterte, the pair 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".

But making nice may not prove any more effective than public criticism.

Other reports by Ligue1talk

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