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Duterte to Trump: ‘Lay off’ topic of human rights

President Rodrigo Duterte said he has, in a way, established a friendship with US President Donald Trump even if they have not met yet personally. File

MANILA, Philippines — Philippine President Rodrigo Duterte wants US President Donald Trump to lay off the topic of human rights during their first bilateral meeting.

“Lay off, that is my business. I take care of my country,” Duterte said during a televised press briefing before his departure for the  Asia-Pacific Economic Cooperation meet in Da Nang, Vietnam.

“I nurture my country to help. Nobody would,” he added.

Earlier, a White House official reportedly said that Trump plans on discussing the human rights situation in the Philippines on his forthcoming meeting with Duterte.

READ: Trump to raise human rights with Duterte at ASEAN Summit

The Philippine president received criticisms from the international community after the spate of drug-related killings due to the government’s anti-drug campaign.

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Duterte had not taken the criticisms well and has called these as violations of Philippine sovereignty.

For his upcoming meeting with Trump, Duterte said he expects to discuss three topics: trade, terrorism and the US’ position on the South China Sea dispute.

Duterte said trade would be the first topic he would tackle with Trump as it is the “very life of nations.”

READ: Pew: 69% of Filipinos trust Trump, but more oppose his trade policy

“To all of these things, I would just say that we all hunger for peace and if we can talk about it in a very civilized manner. I would be glad to participate in the discussion,” Duterte said.

Duterte said he had to wait for the outcome of the talk between Trump and Chinese President Xi Jin Ping first before he can issue the country’s position since the two leaders are set to meet ahead.

“We will wait for results when I would be in a position to give him a balanced answer,” Duterte said.

“It would be based on the outcome of their talks and the points that would touch the Philippines then I would have to decide what is based on my country alone,” he added.

Trump is slated to set foot in the country on November 12 to attend the East Asia Summit. Duterte and Trump will also meet at the Asia Pacific Economic Cooperation Summit in Vietnam.

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