President Donald Trump has invited Philippine leader Rodrigo Duterte to Washington to “to discuss the importance of the United States-Philippines alliance,” the White House said late Saturday.
During a “very friendly” phone conversation, Trump invited Philippines the President Duterte to the White House, signaling a massive shift in attitude from the U.S. toward a leader known best for inciting an extrajudicial war on drugs in his country that’s killed more than 7,500 people.
A statement from the White House said Trump invited Duterte to discuss the “importance of the United States-Philippines alliance,” and that the two also talked about “the fact that the Philippine government is fighting very hard to rid its country of drugs.”
Trump’s hospitality toward Duterte was considered by many to be a cause for concern, given the Philippine leader’s continued disregard for human rights — a fact that Duterte has even been quick to acknowledge himself.
In December, Duterte released a statement saying Trump had told him he was conducting his war on drugs “the right way.” Less than three weeks later, the top human rights official with the United Nations called for the Philippines leader to be investigated for murder.
In its statement, the White House suggested that Mr. Trump was eager to mend relations. The president’s invitation, it said, was aimed at discussing “the importance of the United States-Philippine alliance, which is now headed in a very positive direction.”