MANILA – President Rodrigo Duterte tagged North Korean leader Kim Jong-un as the “mad man” of this generation, according to what appears to be a leaked transcript of his latest phone conversation with US President Donald Trump.
Trump called Duterte on April 29 after the latter’s hosting of the Association of Southeast Asian Nations (ASEAN) Summit, where the tension in the Korean Peninsula was raised as an issue of concern.
The transcript, which came from the Department of Foreign Affairs and was posted by the Washington Post, shows Trump asking Duterte for his opinion of North Korea leader Kim Jong-un.
Duterte responded to Trump: “He is not stable, Mr. President, as he keeps on smiling when he explodes a rocket. He even has gone against China which is the last country he should rebuke.”
Trump, whose administration has adopted a tougher position towards North Korea, said the US might be forced to use its firepower against Pyongyang if things go out of hand.
“We have a lot of firepower over there. We have two submarines – the best in the world – we have two nuclear submarines – not that we want to use them all. I’ve never seen anything like they are but we don’t have to use this but he could be crazy so we will see what happens,” Trump said.
“Every generation has a mad man – in our generation [it] is Kim Jung (sic) Un – you are dealing with a very delicate problem,” Duterte replied.
Duterte has underscored the importance of Chinese intervention in the Korean Peninsula, saying only China can persuade North Korea to stop its nuclear activities that have rattled US allies Japan and South Korea.
“[At] the end of the day, the last card, the ace has to be with China. Its only China. He is playing with bombs, his toys and from the looks of it, his mind is not working well and he might go cray one moment,” Duterte said.
“China should make a last ditch effort to tell him to lay off. China will play a very important role there.”
DUTERTE OFFERS TO CALL XI, TRUMP SAYS PLEASE
Trump agreed with Duterte that China can help in solving the problem, “but if China doesn’t do it, we will do it.”
This prompted the Filipino leader to offer calling Chinese President Xi Jinping and discuss the matter.
“I will try to make a call to President Xi Jinping and I will tell him that if we will remain to be peaceful, China has the card. The other option is a nuclear blast which is not good for everybody,” Duterte said.
Duterte earlier claimed that he called Xi at Trump’s request.
In the phone conversation, Trump seemed to appreciate Duterte’s gesture, saying “You can tell him (Xi) I am counting on him. I have a very good relationship with him… He is a good guy.”
“Please call China and tell them we are all counting on China. Tell the President – we became friends for two days – he was great,” he added.
While Trump called North Korea’s recent missile tests failed “good news”, he worried that things might change once Pyongyang acquires a suitable delivery system for its nuclear arms.
“We can’t let a madman with nuclear weapons let on the loose like that,” Trump said.
“We have a lot of firepower, more than he has, times 20 but we don’t want to use it. You will be in good shape.”
Trump has been trying to rally support from Asian nations for his actions against North Korea. Duterte was among the leaders he consulted with about the tensions in the peninsula.
The phone call between the two leaders was criticized by human rights groups which called out the US leader for not bringing up the human rights situation in the Philippines amid Duterte’s war on drugs.
While Trump’s predecessor, Barack Obama, was unhappy about the killings being linked to the drug campaign, Trump heaped praise on the Filipino leader’s crusade.
“I just wanted to congratulate you because I am hearing of the unbelievable job on the drug problem. Many countries have the problem, we have a problem, but what a great job you are doing and I just wanted to call and tell you that,” Trump told Duterte.