Philippines President Rodrigo Duterte on Saturday said President-elect Donald Trump had invited him to the US, and endorsed his brutal antidrug campaign, telling him that the Philippines was conducting it “the right way”.
Duterte, who spoke to Trump over phone on Friday, said the President-elect was “quite sensitive” to “our worry about drugs”, The New Tork Times reported.
“He wishes me well, too, in my campaign, and said well, we are doing it as a sovereign nation, the right way,” Duterte said.
There was no immediate response from Trump to Duterte’s statement. His transition team could not be reached for comment.
Since his election on November 9, Trump has held a series of calls with foreign leaders, several of which have broken radically from past American policies and diplomatic practice.
Friday’s call with Taiwan President Tsai Ing-wen was also out of sync with four decades of US policy toward China and prompted a Chinese call to the White House.
Duterte has been leading a campaign against drug abuse in which, since he took office in June, more than 2,000 people have been killed in raids. Police said several hundred more have been killed by vigilantes.
The Philippines leader’s move has been condemned by the US, the UN, the European Union and others for what rights organisations said were extrajudicial killings.
In rejecting such criticism from the US, Duterte called Obama “son of a whore”, and threatened to cut diplomatic ties with Washington.
Duterte earlier said he was seeking “a separation” from the US, a longtime ally. He said on Saturday: “We assured him of our ties with America.”
Duterte said that Trump had invited him to visit New York and Washington, and that he wanted to attend the summit meeting of the Association of Southeast Asian Nations next year in the Philippines.
“I appreciate the response that I got from Trump, and I would like to wish him success,” he said. “He will be a good President for the US.”