President Trump spent some time over the weekend calling several leaders in the Asia Pacific—and inviting them to the White House. His invitations included the Prime Ministers of Singapore and Thailand, and in a surprise to many, the president of the Philippines. HPR’s Bill Dorman has more in today’s Asia Minute.
Some weekend phone diplomacy from the White House to Asia apparently produced a few internal shocks in the Trump Administration.
The New York Times reports an invitation to Philippine President Rodrigo Duterte to visit the White House came as a surprise to both the National Security Council and the State Department—which has criticized Duterte for supporting vigilante killings of drug dealers.
The Asia director of Human Rights Watch told the Times “By essentially endorsing Duterte’s murderous war on drugs, Trump is now morally complicit in future killings.”
A White House statement late Saturday night called it “a very friendly conversation,” covering “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.”
A spokesman for the Philippine president said the discussion “was warm, with President Trump expressing his understanding and appreciation of the challenges facing the Philippine President, especially on the matter of dangerous drugs.”
While President Trump marked his first one hundred days in office this Saturday, Amnesty International pointed to a different kind of milestone in Duterte’s first one hundred days in office: more than 3,000 killings in his war on drugs.
Duterte has now been in office for a little more than ten months, and Amnesty International estimates the death toll at well above 7,000 and counting.