Citing his “very friendly” relationship with the authoritarian Filipino ruler, President Trump claims he’s invited Rodrigo Duterte to a tete-a-tete at the White House. But Duterte says he’s not sure he can risk a sit-down with the American president.
Trump, of course, has already faced criticism for what many human-rights organizations are calling a “naive” policy toward the Philippines president, who stands accused of thousands of murders. During just the first six months of his tenure, Duterte reportedly killed more than 6,000 people as part of a crackdown on the country’s drug trade.
Even senior officials at the State Department and on the National Security Council have warned Trump against hosting Duterte for anything other than a dressing down. They say had they been consulted on the matter, they would have strenuously objected to extending the invitation.
But if the Trump Administration is nervous about what it would look like to have an Oval Office meeting with someone widely considered to be a dictator, the alleged dictator himself appears just as concerned about what it might mean to be pictured with Trump.
“I’m tied up,” he told media on Monday. “I cannot make any definite promise.”
He followed it up by criticizing the administration’s approach to North Korea, calling Trump’s goading of Kim Jong Un a bad idea, and claiming that part of his call with the American president over the weekend was to school him in foreign policy.
“I said, Mr. President, I do not think that you can scare Kim Jung Un with firepower,” Duterte said. “Our greatest chance there of getting some dialogue with America and North Korea would be through the intercession of China.”
That’s right, a man with a reputation for having a penchant for murdering people he thinks are criminals without resorting to the protections of a judicial system spent the weekend lecturing Donald Trump about caution.