Philippine President Rodrigo Duterte has been invited to the White House by his political soulmate Donald Trump, who an interest in developing a “warm, working relationship”, according to Manila.
In a “very friendly” telephone call, Trump said he was looking forward to visiting the Philippines in November for an East Asia summit, presidential spokesman Ernie Abella told the media.
No date was given for Duterte’s visit to the Oval Office.
The remarkably similar leaders, who were both elected last year, discussed regional security, including the North Korea crisis.
On Friday Asean’s foreign ministers expressed “grave concern” over Pyongyang’s two nuclear tests last year and ballistic missile launches.
Duterte is far more positive about Trump than he was about Barack Obama, whom he called a “son of a whore” and said he should “go to hell” for criticising his anti-drug killings.
The current US administration has been far more restrained when addressing the more than 7,000 killed by the security services and vigilantes since Duterte came to office last June.
Manila insists the killings were in self defence.
Trump and Duterte “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”, Trump’s staff said in a statement.
Over the weekend’s Asean summit in Manila, Indonesia’s President Joko Widodo and Brunei’s Sultan Hassanal Bolkiah expressed support for Duterte’s drug killings.
Ahead of the telephone with Trump, Duterte said he would call for caution with North Korea. “Who am I to say that he should stop? But I will say, Mr President, just see to it there is no war because my region will suffer immensely. The first fallout would be us and Asia, very near, very dangerous,” Duterte told the media.
“I’m sure President Trump by now is cautioning his military to just hang on there and not to start something which they cannot control,” Duterte said. “And it behooves upon America who wields the biggest stick just to really to be prudent and patient.”
Duterte said both sides were “playing with their toys”.
“There seems to be two countries playing with their toys, and their toys are not really to entertain,” the “Asian Trump” said. “We have to caution everybody, including those who would give the advice to the two players, because they are the nuclear warheads, to just assure restraint.”
President Rodrigo Duterte with Russian counterpart Vladimir Putin. Picture credit: Kremlin