by WorldTribune Staff, April 30, 2017
U.S. President Donald Trump and Philippine President Rodrigo Duterte have a couple of things in common. Both speak their minds and both are taking a hardline stance against drugs.
This may have been enough to win Duerte an invitation to the White House after the two leaders spoke on the phone about another controversial leader who has outdone them both in terms of generating international outrage — North Korea’s Kim Jong-Un.
The Duerte invitation was a bit much for the New York Times which noted in the third paragraph of an article Sunday that: “Mr. Duterte’s war on drugs has resulted in the deaths of several thousand people suspected of using or selling narcotics, as well as others who may have had no involvement with drugs. Human rights groups and many Western governments have condemned Mr. Duterte for the bloody campaign.”
The invitation from one outspoken populist leader to another was confirmed by Duterte spokesman Ernesto Abella, who said Trump had expressed “his understanding and appreciation of the challenges facing the Philippine president, especially on the matter” of drugs.
Trump had a “very friendly conversation with Duterte,” according to a statement issued by the White House on April 29. It said that the two leaders “discussed the fact that the Philippines is fighting very hard to rid its country of drugs.”
Trump has made fighting the deadly opioid addiction problem in the U.S. a priority.
Duterte, who is the current chairman of the Association of South East Asian Nations (ASEAN), also said he would urge Trump not to get into a confrontation with North Korean dictator Kim Jong-Un.
“The guy (Kim) simply wants to end the world, that is why he is very happy. He is always smiling. But he really wants to finish everything and he wants to drag us all down,” Duterte said.
“Who am I to say that you should stop? But I would say ‘Mr. President, please see to it that there is no war because my region will suffer immensely,’ ” Duterte said.
North Korea test-fired a ballistic missile on April 29 shortly after U.S. Secretary of State Rex Tillerson warned that failure to curb Pyongyang’s nuclear and ballistic missile programs could lead to “catastrophic consequences.”
The missile test is believed to have failed.
Duterte once called former President Barack Obama a “son of a whore” when he was asked how he would react if Obama raised human rights issues with him. He later apologized, and his aides said his comment was an expression of frustration rather than a personal attack against the American president.