Philippines says Trump called Duterte to affirm alliance

Trump invites Philippines' Duterte to Washington to develop 'warm' post-Obama relations

Trump invites Philippines' Duterte to Washington to develop 'warm' post-Obama relations

The White House on Sunday defended President Donald Trump's decision to invite Philippines President Rodrigo Duterte to Washington, saying his cooperation was needed to counter North Korea, even as the administration faced human rights criticism for its overture to Manila.

Human Rights Watch and other critics reacted with alarm and outrage Monday at Trump's invitation for Duterte to visit the White House in a telephone call where the leader of the free world also affirmed America's treaty alliance and friendship with the Philippines and its new president, who has had an antagonistic stance toward US security policies.

The White House gave no details of when the leaders would meet in Washington to discuss their alliance, but said Trump looked forward to visiting the Philippines in November as part of two summits with other Asian nations.

According to leading worldwide campaign group Human Rights Watch, Duterte's crackdown has claimed some 7,000 lives, with half of those attributed to the Philippine National Police.

It was the United States leader who initiated the phone call to Duterte at the sidelines of the Association of the Southeast Asian Nations summit.

Priebus agreed that human rights matter but he argued that the North Korean problem takes precedence.

"If we don't have all of our folks together - whether they're good folks, bad folks, people we wish would do better in their country, doesn't matter, we've got to be on the same page" on North Korea, Priebus said. "We have got to be on the same page". On Friday, he told Reuters, "There is a chance that we could end up having a major, major conflict with North Korea".

The US military has moved an aircraft carrier strike group into the region, docked a powerful nuclear submarine in South Korea and staged large military drills with South Korea and Japan.

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He was accused of being responsible for the execution of more than 1,000 dealers when he was mayor.

Duterte hated Obama but he likes Trump because both individuals share a common characteristic - shooting from the hip and say things they may not have really meant.

Duterte urged the USA to be patient and practice restraint. "We know that we are playing with somebody who relishes letting go of his missiles and everything", Duterte said. "I am supposed to go to Russian Federation, I am supposed to go to Israel", he told reporters when asked about Trump's invitation made in a telephone call on Saturday. "But he is putting Mother Earth, the planet, on the edge", he said. It also confirmed the invitation given extended to Duterte to visit the White House to discuss the "importance of the United States-Philippines alliance", according to ABC News.

Duterte has faced global condemnation for his brutal crackdown on crime, which has claimed thousands of lives and led to warnings from rights groups about a possible crime against humanity.

And, after he took office, he continued the tough talk.

Duterte also publicly attacked Trump's predecessor, Barack Obama, multiple times a year ago, once calling Obama the "son of a whore", before walking that statement back. It would be wrong to assume Trump isn't raising human rights "because we don't put out statements chastising leaders at every call", Spicer said.

Last week, following the Philippines' hosting of the 30th ASEAN Summit, Presidents Duterte and Trump had a conversation through phone.

The Department of Foreign Affairs in Manila said Duterte has not yet responded to Trump's offer, adding that an official USA invitation would kick off diplomatic arrangements for Duterte's possible US trip.

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