tiptrot.com June 28, 2017

China's Xi hails ties with Philippines as Duterte cools on US

04 May 2017, 11:13 | Mandy Simon

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Trump invited the Philippines' strongman president to the White House during a "very friendly conversation" on Saturday, according to a White House statement.

Now: the president's weekend phone call with the president of the Philippines and the uproar that has ensued.

The comment prompted White House National Security Adviser H.R. McMaster to quickly contact his counterparts in Seoul and assure them the United States would shoulder the costs. He has also threatened to kill human rights defenders who attempt to intervene in his war on drugs. Nevertheless, with this utterly unwarranted invite, Trump is sending an unequivocal message to longtime strongmen, aspiring autocrats and the broader global community: The U.S. won't even pretend to care about human rights on Trump's watch.

"The Trump Administration should immediately withdraw its invitation to Duterte and publicly denounce the mass killings he has advocated for, or risk embarrassing the country with the sight of the U.S. President greeting a remorseless, self-confessed murderer".

President Rodrigo Duterte is assisted by Special Assistant to the President Christopher Lawrence Go as he speaks to US President Donald Trump through a phone call.

"The President's diplomacy style is paying dividends, whether it's getting someone who was held for years in Egypt released, whether it's the action that China has taken", White House Press Secretary Sean Spicer told reporters.

"The two things that we've seen over the years that drive the North Koreans insane are money and potential human rights prosecutions", he said.

South Korean leaders, in particular, are bewildered by Trump's recent comment that Seoul may need to pay for a $1 billion missile-defense system - known as THAAD - that the USA military is installing in South Korea.

RODRIGO DUTERTE: I will say just, Mr. President, please see to it that there is no war, because my region will suffer immensely.

The Philippine president said he may or may not accept the United States president's invitation to the White House.

"'We have all agreed in the ASEAN and even President Trump that you can do something".

Of late, even across Southeast Asia, there's already talk among human rights groups in the region about what's referred to as the Duterte effect whereby what he's doing here might actually manifest itself in other countries in the region.

"Implying that the Philippines has any influence whatsoever on North Korea, or that it has anything to offer as part of a diplomatic or military alliance against [North Korea], doesn't pass the laugh test", Phil Robertson, deputy director of Human Rights Watch's Asia Division, told Humanosphere.

Mr Duterte said if asked by Mr Trump, he would happily relay what was discussed with Mr Xi. He is the democratically elected leader of a long-standing American ally whose strategic cooperation is important in checking China's aggressive expansionism in the South China Sea. Meanwhile, its outreach to Duterte is not likely to produce any benefit on the North Korea question at all.

America's human rights record has never been flawless and contradictions in USA foreign policy are nothing new. And I hope that would also not get swept under the rug.

GASCON: Thank you very much.

Like Trump, Duterte is known for his shocking statements.

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