W.House says invitation of Duterte is mostly about Korea

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A top aide on Sunday defended President Donald Trump’s invitation to his Philippines counterpart to visit Washington, saying the need to rally Asian allies over North Korea overshadowed concerns about President Rodrigo Duterte’s brutal war on drugs.
The statement touched only lightly on Duterte’s brutal crackdown on crime, which has claimed thousands of lives and drawn international condemnation.
But when White House chief of staff Reince Priebus was asked Sunday why Trump was “honoring” Duterte with the White House invitation, he told ABC, “I’m not so sure it’s a matter of honoring this president.”
“The issues facing us, developing out of North Korea, are so serious that we need cooperation at some level with as many partners in the area as we can get,” he said.
That way, Priebus added, “if something does happen in North Korea, we have everyone in line backing up a plan of action that may need to be put together with our partners in the area.”
Duterte had in the past regularly hit out at the United States, Philippines’ one-time colonial ruler, for perceived hypocrisy over human rights. Last year he branded then US president Barack Obama a “son of a whore” for criticizing the drug war.
Duterte spoke of loosening the long-standing alliance with the US as he looked to court China, whose push to control most of the disputed South China Sea has alarmed neighbors.
But the White House said Saturday that the two leaders, both elected to office last year, had helped orient the US-Philippine relationship “in a very positive direction.”

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