Published:  12:12 AM, 14 November 2017

I have great ties with Duterte, says Trump

I have great ties with Duterte, says Trump (L-R) The Association of Southeast Asian Nations (ASEAN) members Vietnam's PM Nguyen Xuan Phuc, US President Donald Trump, Philippine President Rodrigo Duterte, Australia PM Malcolm Turnbull, link hands during the Opening ceremony of the 31st ASEAN Summi

US President Donald Trump said he has a "great relationship" with Phili-ppine counterpart Rodrigo Duterte, after a highly anticipated meeting in Manila.

It was unclear whether Trump raised human rights violations in the country, despite calls for him to do so. The previous US administration had spoken out against Duterte's war on drugs, which has killed almost 4,000 people. Trump is almost at the end of an extensive Asia tour.

The first meeting between Trump and Duterte, which took place at the Association of South-East Asian Nations (Asean) summit, was closely watched as both are known for striking a controversially outspoken and direct tone.

After the private meeting, the US president did not respond to questions about whether he had raised the subject of human rights while a spokesman for Duterte said the topic had not been discussed. White House spokeswoman Sarah Sanders later said the topic was mentioned briefly in their private meeting, in the context of the war on drugs, but did not give further details.

On Friday, Duterte said he stabbed a person to death when he was a teenager. His spokesman later said the remark had been "in jest". Since coming into office in 2016, Duterte has presided over a massive crackdown on crime in the Philippines, which critics allege undermines fundamental human rights.

He has encouraged extrajudicial killings of those involved in the drug trade, and said he would "be happy to slaughter" three million drug addicts in the country. Police say they have killed almost 4,000 people in anti-drug operations since 2016. More than 2,000 others have been killed in connection with drug-related crimes.


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