President Rodrigo Duterte on Sunday said he would deal with US President Donald Trump “in the most righteous way” when they meet next month to discuss regional security and Manila’s war on drugs.
Trump will travel to Asia on Nov. 3-14 amid rising tensions over North Korea’s nuclear and missile programs.
He will be in Manila on the last leg of his trip, which includes visits to Japan, South Korea, China and Vietnam, to attend the Association of Southeast Asian Nations (Asean) leaders’ summit.
Trump will meet with Mr. Duterte but will skip the larger meeting in Manila with heads of states and governments from China, South Korea, Japan, India, Australia and New Zealand.
“I would deal with President Trump in the most righteous way, welcome him as an important leader,” he told a press briefing at Davao International Airport before leaving for Japan for talks with Prime Minister Shinzo Abe.
‘Like a dog’
He added: “I would have to also listen to him, what he has to say. I have not met him personally but I have noticed that we move our mouths in the same cadence.”
Mr. Duterte is known for his often profanity-laden tirades against the United States, chiding Washington for treating the Philippines “like a dog,” despite the two nations’ long-standing relationship.
Drug war killings
He announced his “separation” from the United States during a visit to Beijing a year ago, declaring he had realigned with China as the two countries agreed to resolve their South China Sea dispute through talks.
Mr. Duterte was infuriated by expressions of concern by members of then US President Barack Obama’s administration about extrajudicial killings in the Philippines.
But Trump, in a phone call to Mr. Duterte in May, praised the Philippine leader for doing an “unbelievable job on the drug problem” despite human rights groups’ condemnation of Mr. Duterte’s drug crackdown, in which thousands of people have been killed.
Human rights, rule of law and due process are among “important developments” the two leaders would likely discuss during their bilateral talks, Sung Kim, US ambassador to Manila, told foreign correspondents last week.
Mr. Duterte is accused by international human rights groups of supporting a campaign of extrajudicial killings of drug suspects in the Philippines, which he has denied.
He defended his 16-month-old campaign last week, telling Southeast Asian lawyers at a gathering in Manila that he had been “demonized” and denying allegations of state-sponsored killings of drug dealers and users. —Reports from Philip C. Tubeza and the wires
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