A much-anticipated bilateral between the two leaders at the ASEAN summit sidesteps difficult discussions about Duterte's bloody war on drugs.
Billed as a tough meeting, the bilateral between Donald Trump and Rodrigo Duterte at the ASEAN Summit in the Philippines was more of a love-in.
Human rights groups had pressed the US President to take a tough line on Duterte’s bloody war on drugs.
But Trump, who’d previously told his Philippine counterpart he was doing a “great job”, had other ideas.
Philippine presidential spokesperson, Harry Roque, said of the meeting
“Well, there was no mention of human rights, there was no mention of extralegal killings, there was only a rather lengthy discussion about the Philippines’ war on drugs with President Duterte doing most of the explaining.”
The relationship between the two leaders has been described as “warm, friendly, and candid”.
Nowhere was this more in evidence than at the summit gala dinner, at which Duterte took the stage to croon a Filipino hit love song to his opposite number.
The song, “Ikaw” (You), which he sang in a duet with local pop diva Pilita Corrales, has one verse which begins “You are the light in my world, a half of this heart of mine”.
Trump appeared delighted with the tribute.
Trump didn’t explain how this would help him achieve his stated goal of a “truly free and open Indo-Pacific”.