World News

Human rights issue looms over Trump-Duterte meeting

Human rights issue looms over Trump-Duterte meeting

Both the Philippines and Vietnam have recently seen China disrupt oil and gas exploration in disputed areas of the South China Sea.

It was unclear if Trump's offhand remark signaled a more proactive USA role in finding a solution to one of Asia's biggest flashpoints.

Philippine President Rodrigo Duterte, who is facing global criticism for his bloody war on drugs, said his country was willing to host a "world summit" to tackle how nations can protect human rights. Vietnam's president said the country would like to settle the dispute peacefully and "with respect for diplomatic and legal process".

It's unclear if any of the countries involved in the dispute will take Trump up on his offer.

It's "a very kind and generous offer because he is a good mediator", Foreign Secretary Alan Peter Cayetano told reporters in Manila.

Duterte, who has sought warmer relations with China since taking office past year, warned on Sunday that a war over the waterway would devastate the region.

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Notably, on Monday, the Philippines President would also chair a meeting of the 20th ASEAN-China Summit.

"It can ill-afford a violent confrontation", Duterte explained, elaborating on a previous comment about off-limit topics in which he also suggested he would shut down discussions on human rights if the topic was raised by Trump.

"The other hot heads would like us to confront China and the rest of the world for so many issues". The Manilla Bulletin quoted him as saying.

Trump and leaders of the 10-member Association of Southeast Asian Nations, China, Russia, Japan, Canada, South Korea, India, Australia and New Zealand were entertained by singers and dancers at the dinner. The talks have made little progress since the nations agreed formally to work toward a code in 2002. He has spoken more warmly of Trump, another leader known for his bluntness.

Speaking about human rights during his Vietnam visit, Mr Duterte proposed a "world summit" on the issue - but not looking exclusively at human rights abuses in the Philippines. Whether Trump addresses human rights abuses in the country will likely color how that conversation is received by many back in the United States.

Leaders in the Philippines view Trump's visit, though, as a step forward in US-Philippine relations because former President Barack Obama's relationship with Duterte at the end of his presidency was tense and frayed. Hundreds of people protested his arrival in Manila on Sunday, with leftist groups pledging to burn American flags.


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