Duterte wants to be friends with Trump, Putin
President Duterte, who has been hostile to US President Barack Obama for criticizing his deadly crackdown on drugs, has congratulated Donald Trump for a “well-deserved victory” and said he was excited to meet Russian leader Vladimir Putin at an upcoming Asia-Pacific summit.
Mr. Duterte, who has been criticized for his foul language and the drug crackdown, gave upbeat remarks about the US president-elect and Putin in a news conference at Malacañang late on Tuesday.
“It was a well-deserved victory. You (Trump) are the chosen leader of the most powerful country,” Mr. Duterte said, congratulating Trump for his victory in the US presidential election on Nov. 8.
‘Separation’ from US
Mr. Duterte has had a frosty relationship with Obama and Washington since he spoke out against Mr. Duterte’s war on drugs that has left more than 4,000 suspects dead since July.
At the height of his public outbursts, Mr. Duterte told Obama to “go to hell” and announced his “separation” with America, his country’s treaty ally, during a state visit to China last month.
Mr. Duterte later walked back on that, saying what he meant was his desire to chart a foreign policy that would not overly lean on America.
But he has publicly vowed to stop joint combat drills with the US military and scale back other security engagements with Washington, although he has also softened up on those threats.
Defense officials announced last week that Mr. Duterte had agreed to allow a smaller number of joint military exercises, adding that overt assault drills would be discontinued.
The push away from Washington has been accompanied by Mr. Duterte reaching out to China and Russia.
To Russia with love
Mr. Duterte said he wanted to meet with Putin, who he added also loved guns and hunting, at this month’s Asia-Pacific Economic Cooperation (Apec) summit in Peru, and that he wanted their countries to have strong ties.
“I will not ask for anything. I want to be friends with him, I just want the two countries to be the best of friends,” he said. —Reports from the wires
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