Philippine President Rodrigo Duterte has claimed he will deal with President Donald Trump “in the most righteous way” when the two meet next month to discuss escalating tensions with North Korea.
“It [talks] would be terrorism, cooperation between the two countries, the fight against drugs. I expect to be dealing with him around these topics,” Duterte said. “I would deal with President Trump in the most righteous way, welcome him as an important leader.”
The meeting will form part of Trump’s November tour of Asia. The U.S. president is scheduled to visit Japan, South Korea, China, and Vietnam, largely to discuss the escalating crisis triggered by North Korea’s nuclear and missile program. Duterte, meanwhile, traveled to Japan on Monday for one-on-one meetings with Prime Minister Shinzo Abe.
Trump’s meeting with Duterte will represent a shift in relations between the two countries, having previously called President Barack Obama a “son of a whore” and accusing him of treating the Philippines “like a dog” for his criticism of Duterte’s drug crackdown program, which has involved thousands of extra-judicial killings.
Duterte has also snubbed Trump and described the U.S. as a “lousy country,” although relations have improved since Trump and Duterte spoke on the phone in May. Trump praised Duterte for his “unbelievable job on the drug problem,” with Duterte describing Trump as a “realist” and a “pragmatic thinker.”
The Filipino strongman said that North Korea would be the primary focus of the talks, having previously described dictator Kim Jong-un as a “fool” and “son of a bitch” for “playing with dangerous toys.”
“We are worried. If anything can go wrong, it will go wrong,” he said. “A nuclear war is totally unacceptable to everybody.”
Diplomats in both Japan and South Korea warned last week that North Korea’s capacity to use nuclear weapons is “imminent” as they continue to carry out nuclear tests.
Duterte added that the United States, Japan, and South Korea should engage in dialogue with and “tell him that nobody’s threatening him, that there would be no war, and that if you can just tone down or stand down, stop the threats, and that would be the same for America.”
Trump, meanwhile, has suggested a less diplomatic approach to talks, warning that America would “totally destroy” North Korea if necessary to defend itself and allies, describing Kim Jong-Un as a “little rocket man” carrying out a “suicide mission.”