Trump bats for 'warm' ties with Duterte in call: Palace


Posted at Apr 30 2017 10:37 AM

President Rodrigo Duterte and US President Donald Trump. File/Composite

MANILA - U.S. President Donald Trump renewed his country's commitment to its alliance with Manila as he asserted his desire for a "warm" working relationship with President Rodrigo Duterte during a phone call on Saturday night, Malacañang said Sunday.

"The ambit of the conversation between the two leaders includes the expression of commitment of U.S. President Trump to the PH-US alliance and his interest in developing a warm, working relationship with President Duterte," said Presidential Spokesperson Ernesto Abella in a statement.

Abella added that Trump mentioned that he "looks forward" to visiting the Philippines for the East Asia Summit (EAS) in November.

Trump and Duterte talked over the phone after the Filipino leader hosted other Southeast Asian leaders in the 30th ASEAN Summit.

In an earlier press conference, Duterte said he would urge Trump to show restraint on North Korea after its latest missile test rattled allies Japan and South Korea.

"There seems to be two countries playing with their toys and those toys are not really to entertain," he told a news conference after the ASEAN summit in Manila, referring to Washington and Pyongyang.

"You know that they are playing with somebody who relishes letting go of missiles and everything. I would not want to go into his (Kim's) mind because I really do not know what's inside but he's putting mother earth, the planet to an edge."

Before Trump assumed office, Duterte was angered by the Obama administration's concerns over his war on drugs, which has seen the deaths of thousands of drug suspects.

Ties between Manila and Washington thawed when Trump came to power.

So far, the American leader has not directly and openly criticized Duterte's controversial campaign. The U.S. State Department under his administration however recently described the drug-related killings in the Philippines as "troubling."

Saturday's conversation between Duterte and Trump was the second time they talked over the phone. Last December, the Philippine President called Trump to congratulate the latter over his election victory. -- With Reuters