Sunday, 21 January, 2018

Philippines' Duterte to Tillerson: 'I Am Your Humble Friend'

US provides drones to help Philippines fight pro-IS militants Philippine Pres. Duterte Calls For 20K Additional Troops in Marawi
Sammy Stanley | 09 August, 2017, 00:07

Philippine President Rodrigo Duterte on Tuesday took a swipe at the Trump administration's retreat from a major free trade deal, joining Asian nations at a forum this week in criticising rising protectionism.

The Tillerson visit also came at a time when Duterte had announced he would pursue an independent foreign policy that meant lesser dependence on the USA, its longtime ally and partner, in favour of closer relations with other nations especially China and Russian Federation. And at a news conference after their meeting, Duterte bristled but didn't answer directly when asked whether human rights had come up. So human rights, don't go there'.

This was contrary to earlier reports that Tillerson would raise human rights concerns in his talks with Duterte.

"I hope that (you) stay alive, fight cool, do not be in a hurry, do not go into a rage or you could lose yourself", the Star quoted Duterte as saying.

The White House described an April call between Trump and Duterte as "very friendly".

Sources said Duterte and Tillerson discussed matters such as the siege by Islamic State group-linked Maute militants in Marawi City, the growing threat of worldwide terrorism and the tension in the Korean Peninsula.

While Duterte was again mum on the details of the meeting he did say foreign officials have "toned down" on human rights issues.

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Around 700 people have been killed since fighting in the city began. "We have always included this issue in our discussion and engagements with foreign governments particularly western democracies", Abella said.

Philippine President Rodrigo Duterte called himself a "humble friend" of the United States on Monday, taking a break from his notorious hostility towards Washington to grant a warm reception to visiting U.S. Secretary of State Rex Tillerson.

Tillerson is here to attend the 50th ASEAN Foreign Ministers Meeting and its Dialogue Partners.

U.S. Secretary of State Rex Tillerson, in Manila for a regional gathering, said the equipment includes a few Cessna aircraft and a few drones.

A Republic of Singapore Air Force (RSAF) C-130 transport aircraft airlifted humanitarian supplies worth US$100,000 (S$136,343) to the Philippines yesterday afternoon to provide relief to displaced civilians in the southern Philippines, said a press release by Mindef.

'The real challenge is going to come with once they have the fighting brought to an end how to deal with the conditions on the ground to ensure it does not re-emerge'.

The US department of state referred the Guardian to Tillerson's remarks before the meeting in which he told journalists that the US had "human rights concerns ... with respect to how they carry out their counternarcotics activities".

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