Philippines says Trump called Duterte to affirm alliance

Philippine President Rodrigo Duterte, who chaired the one-day summit, said the leaders were anxious that if war broke out in the Korean peninsula, the region would "suffer immensely".

An official state visit by Duterte-whom Trump previously invited to the White House in December, despite Duterte's state-sanctioned assassination campaign on drug dealers and addicts, which has resulted in the deaths of thousands of people-would only fuel the narrative of Trump's affinity for strongmen.

Duterte said he told Trump that he didn't think Kim Jong Un could be scared with firepower and the "greatest chance" of having a dialogue with Pyongyang would be "through the intercession of China".

As the "more responsible country who wields the biggest stick", Duterte said the US should be prudent and patient in dealing with North Korea and its leader, Kim Jong Un, who has been rattling Northeast Asia with repeated missile and nuclear detonation tests.

US and Philippine officials said Trump's calls and invitations to several Asian allies including Duterte were aimed at discussing the crisis over North Korea's nuclear threats. Priebus cited the military threat of North Korea.

"In my term I'll try to make something like this".

Barack Obama had criticized Duterte over human rights, which earned him a curse from the Philippine leader. We have got to be on the same page.

"President Trump also invited President Duterte to the White House to discuss the importance of the United States-Philippines alliance, which is now heading in a very positive direction", the statement said.

However, in August 2016, new Philippine President Rodrigo Duterte said he would steer relations with China toward mutual benefit and bilateral cooperation and that he would discus the South China Sea territorial dispute in a bilateral fashion with his Chinese counterparts.

"We know that we are playing with somebody who relishes in letting go his missiles. What is at issue is the conduct of the parties in the use of the China Sea", Duterte remarked.

While on a trip to China in October, he said "America has lost", and that he has realigned himself with China's "ideological flow".

Several ASEAN diplomats said China sent officials to lobby the Philippines ahead of the summit, and before the leaders had even gathered Duterte said it was pointless pressuring Beijing over its maritime activities.

Asked if the rare Chinese naval visits were a sign that Duterte was backing away from Washington, Department of National Defense spokesman Arsenio Andolong said: "We are not veering away from the USA but rather we are expanding our relations with our fellow nations in the global community".

Appearing on ABC's "This Week" on Sunday, White House Chief of Staff Reince Priebus said that despite concerns over Manila's recent human rights record, contact between the two president was needed to assure the military alliance was in working order. The invitation came after a "very friendly conversation" over the phone. "I've realigned myself to your ideological flow", he said at the time.

  • Tracy Klein