Trump will meet with Philippine strongman Rodrigo Duterte during Asia trip

Key Points
  • President Donald Trump will meet with Philippine President Rodrigo Duterte next month during a 12-day trip to Asia.
  • Duterte's government is accused of extrajudicial killings in its aggressive crackdown on drugs.
  • Trump drew criticism earlier this year for inviting Duterte to the White House.
Philippine President Rodrigo Duterte
Lean Daval Jr. | Reuters

President Donald Trump will meet with Philippine strongman Rodrigo Duterte during his 12-day trip to Asia and Hawaii next month, the White House said Monday.

Trump will have bilateral meetings with the Philippine president and "other leaders" when he goes to the Philippines for a dinner celebrating the Association of Southeast Asian Nations, press secretary Sarah Huckabee Sanders said in a statement.

Trump will have multiple bilateral meetings during the trip, including with Japan's Shinzo Abe, South Korea's Moon Jae-in and China's Xi Jinping. But talks with Duterte, whose government is accused of widespread extrajudicial killing amid a crackdown on drugs, will raise the most eyebrows.

Trump received swift blowback in April for taking a call with Duterte, which the U.S. president described as "very friendly." He drew further criticism by inviting the Philippine leader to the White House.

In the call with Duterte, Trump congratulated him for doing "an unbelievable job on the drug problem," according to a transcript cited by The New York Times.

Last week, CNBC reported that police estimate 3,850 people died in drug enforcement operations between July 2016 and last month. Human rights groups say the figure could be significantly higher.

Last year, Duterte boasted that he personally killed criminal suspects while patrolling Davao City, where he was mayor, from a motorcycle.

When the White House announced Trump's trip last month, it said he would travel to the Philippines. But it did not previously highlight the meeting with Duterte.

The White House did not immediately respond to a request to comment on the Duterte meeting.

During the 12-day Asia trip, Trump plans to discuss curbing North Korea's nuclear and missile program, as well as trade deals with Asian nations.