Duterte to Trump: ‘Lay-off’ human rights topic during first meeting

Rosette Adel - Philstar.com

MANILA, Philippines — President Rodrigo Duterte on Wednesday said he wanted US President Donald Trump to lay off the human rights topic 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 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.

Duterte had not taken criticism, especially from other nations and from international organizations, well and has called these violations of Philippine sovereignty.

For the coming meeting with Trump, Duterte said he instead expects to discuss three topics with the US president during their first meeting.

Among the issues Duterte wishes to discuss with Trump are trade, terrorism and the US’ position on South China Sea dispute.

Duterte said the first topic he would tackle with Trump is trade because for him it is the “very life of nations.” He also wanted to discuss the extremism and terrorism.

During the scheduled bilateral meeting, Duterte wanted to ask US its “definitive position” vis-à-vis the South China Sea issue.

“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.

Duterte said his decision would be for the greatest interest of the Philippines.

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

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