Philippines' Duterte gets Trump White House invite during 'animated' call

Philippines
# 03 December 2016 02:14 (UTC +04:00)

Baku-APA. U.S. President-elect Donald Trump invited Philippines leader Rodrigo Duterte to the White House next year during a "very engaging, animated" phone conversation, a Duterte aide said on Friday, amid rocky relations between their two countries, APA reports quoting Reuters.

Trump's brief chat with the firebrand Philippine president comes during a period of uncertainty about one of Washington's most important Asian alliances, stoked by Duterte's unrelenting hostility toward the United States and his repeated threats to sever decades-old defense ties.

The call lasted just over seven minutes, Duterte's special advisor, Christopher Go, said in a short text message to media, which gave few details. Trump's transition team had no immediate comment.

In his five months in office, the volatile Duterte has upended Philippine foreign policy by berating the United States, making overtures toward historic rival China and pursuing a new alliance with Russia.

His diplomacy has created jitters among some Asian countries, wary about Beijing's rising influence and Washington's staying power as a regional counterbalance.

The maverick former mayor has praised China and told U.S. President Barack Obama to "go to hell" and called him a "son of a bitch" whom he would humiliate if he visited the Philippines.

The anger was unleashed after Obama expressed concern about possible human rights abuses in Duterte's war on drugs, during which over 2,000 people have been killed.

Duterte had initially expressed optimism about having Trump in the Oval Office, saying he no longer wanted quarrels. But it has not tempered his rhetoric and he has continued to rail at what he calls U.S. "hypocrisy" and "bullying".

In an interview with Reuters during the election campaign, Trump said Duterte's comments showed "a lack of respect for our country".

Sometimes referred to as the "Trump of the East" because of his mercurial ways, Duterte has threatened repeatedly to sever defense ties between the two allies, saying he "hates" having foreign soldiers in his country.

Joint military exercises look set to be scaled back next year, as Duterte demanded, including the number of U.S. troops involved.

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