White House: Human rights discussed briefly during Trump-Duterte meeting
(Photo: Fox News)
by Pia Gutierrez, ABS-CBN News
MANILA — In what was perhaps the most anticipated moment of the three-day event, controversial presidents Rodrigo Duterte and Donald Trump sat together for their first-ever bilateral meeting at the sidelines of the 31st ASEAN summit.
The two presidents talked about Philippine-US relations, the threat of the Islamic state, and improving bilateral trade.
Duterte thanked the US for its military support during the war in Marawi.
Trump, meanwhile, assured Duterte that has always been a friend of his administration.
He also praised Duterte of his hosting of the ASEAN summit.
“We’ve had a great relationship. This has been very successful. We have many meetings today with many leaders the ASEAN conferences has been handled beautifully by the president of the Philippines and your representatives,” he said.
The main question however, was whether Trump will bring up the issue of the Duterte administration’s human rights violations — a question ignored by both leaders.
“We are in a bilateral meeting. Maybe a press conference will follow. Thank you very much,” Duterte told press.
Malacanang said the human rights issue was not among the topics discussed during the meeting, but Duterte did explain to trump issues connected with his controversial war on drugs.
“He explained at length his Philippine domestic policy on the war on drugs and from the body language of the u.S. President, he seemed to be on agreement,” said Sec. Harry Roque, Presidential spokesperson.
This was contrary to a White House statement that the human rights issue was discussed briefly in the context of the illegal drugs war.
Trump is set to remain in Manila until Tuesday to attend the East Asian summit.
A joint statement between the US and Philippines can be read here.