Trump defends Duterte's war on drugs: “He’s been very, very tough on that drug problem"

U.S. President Donald Trump underscored his eagerness to meet with Philippine President Rodrigo Duterte despite international condemnatio...

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U.S. President Donald Trump underscored his eagerness to meet with Philippine President Rodrigo Duterte despite international condemnation of the Asian leader’s violent crackdown on drug addicts and dealers.

“The Philippines is very important to me strategically and militarily,” Trump said Monday in an Oval Office interview with Bloomberg News, two days after he invited the Philippine leader to Washington. “I look forward to meeting him. If he comes to the White House that’s fine.”

A White House statement after the April 29 call said the two leaders discussed “the fact that the Philippine government is fighting very hard to rid its country of drugs.” Trump also committed to taking part in a summit with leaders of the Association of Southeast Asian Nations hosted by Duterte in November.

Duterte first gained global prominence as well as criticism for his aggressive and violent war on drugs as mayor of Davao City. Human rights groups say that, as president, his narcotics crackdown has led to more than 7,000 extrajudicial killings.

“He’s been very, very tough on that drug problem, but he has a massive drug problem,” Trump said in the interview.

Trump’s invitation to Duterte was denounced by human rights advocates and Democratic lawmakers for overlooking the abuses.

In an another interview with Trump, he emphasized public support for Duterte despite the condemnations over the drug conflict.

“You know he’s very popular in the Philippines,” Trump said. “He has a very high approval rating in the Philippines.”


Source: Bloombergpolitics


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