U.S. President-elect Donald Trump invited Philippines leader Rodrigo Duterte to the White House next year during a “very engaging, animated” phone conversation, a Duterte aide said on Friday, amid rocky relations between their two countries.
Trump’s brief chat with the firebrand Philippine president comes during a period of uncertainty about one of Washington’s most important Asian alliances, stoked by Duterte’s unrelenting hostility toward the United States and his repeated threats to sever decades-old defense ties.
The call lasted just over seven minutes, Duterte’s special advisor, Christopher Go, said in a short text message to media, which gave few details. Trump’s transition team had no immediate comment. In his five months in office, the volatile Duterte has upended Philippine foreign policy by berating the United States, making overtures toward historic rival China and pursuing a new alliance with Russia.
The maverick former mayor has praised China and told U.S. President Barack Obama to “go to hell” and called him a “son of a bitch” whom he would humiliate if he visited the Philippines. The anger was unleashed after Obama expressed concern about possible human rights abuses in Duterte’s war on drugs, during which over 2,000 people have been killed.
In September, Duterte compared himself to Adolf Hitler, saying that he would be “happy to slaughter” millions of drug users. In August, he called the US ambassador to the Philippines a “gay son of a whore.” The ambassador is straight.