President Donald Trump is winding down his Asia trip with an worldwide summit and a series of meetings with Pacific Rim allies, including his host in the Philippines who is overseeing a bloody drug war. What he did not do Monday was what many of his predecessors made a point of doing while overseas: publicly highlight human rights abuses.
But the Philippines President had a fan in then-candidate Donald Trump, who mentioned him during his successful White House run. While some have welcomed the burgeoning Duterte-Trump bromance as a much-needed respite for a troubled alliance, others have been critical of the USA president's open embrace of strongmen like Duterte.
That appeared to conflict with the Filipino version of the meeting.
"Trump must not keep ignoring the grave human rights situation in the Philippines".
In April 2017, three months after President Trump took office, he called Duterte saying: "I just wanted to congratulate you because I am hearing of the unbelievable job on the drug problem".
Asked how he would explain Malacañang and the White House's contradicting statements, Roque said: "There was no mention of human rights, there was no mention of extralegal killings". He has encouraged citizens in Philippines to bring drug peddlers to justice in the country as part of his crackdown on suspected drug dealers and users. Human rights groups believe the victim total is far higher, perhaps closer to 9,000.
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Now Trump is slated to attend the Association for Southeast Asian Nations conference on Monday to urge allies to pressure North Korea to give up its nuclear weapons program.
John Brennan, the former CIA director, responded Sunday on CNN's "State of the Union" that Trump was dismissing the former officials - himself included - as "political hacks" in an attempt to "delegitimize" the intelligence community's assessment that Russian Federation interfered in the election.
The US president also discussed trade and the menace of North Korea during a three-way chat with Prime Minister Malcolm Turnbull and Japanese leader Shinzo Abe.
Pacific Rim nation leaders agreed in Vietnam on Saturday to address "unfair trade practices" and "market distorting subsidies", a statement that bore the imprint of Trump's efforts to reshape the global trade landscape.
"Every time he sees me, he says: 'I didn't do that.' And I believe - I really believe - that when he tells me that, he means it", Trump said, arguing that it makes no sense for him to belabor the issue when Russian Federation could help the US on North Korea, Syria and other issues.
After his performance, Duterte said he sang the song for Trump. "And that really is a sign of respect, perhaps for me a little, but really for our country".