A recent phone conversation that Donald Trump had with his Philippines counterpart Rodrigo Duterte has been leaked to the press.
The conversation covers everything from North Korea to Duterte’s war on drugs to the fact that both Trump and Duterte require little sleep.
The tone of the conversation was very friendly, as had been reported at the time.
Among other things, Donald Trump said of Duterte’s tough stance on the drug problem,
“I just wanted to congratulate you because I am hearing of the unbelievable job on the drug problem. Many countries have the problem, we have a problem, but what a great job you are doing and I just wanted to call and tell you that”.
Duterte replied saying,
“Thank you Mr. President. This is the scourge of my nation now and I have to do something to preserve the Filipino nation”.
Trump then took a swipe at Barack Obama saying,
“I understand that and fully understand that and I think we had a previous President who did not understand that…”
Both Duterte and Trump spoke of their worry over North Korean leader Kim Jong-Un who Duterte called a “madman”. Both agreed that China can and should play a vital role in deescalating conflict on the Korean Peninsula and both expressed deeply positive views on China’s President Xi Jinping.
Although Duterte is moving his country further into the Chinese sphere of influence whilst simultaneously growing politically and militarily closer to Russia, the transcript of the phone call reveals that both leaders have a good personal rapport.
If this continues, it may allow Philippines to become a crucial intermediary in future US negotiations with both China and Russia. This of course would be a vital role that Duterte is capable of pulling off as he has good relations with the Presidents of China, Russia and the United States.
The full transcript of the phone call can be read here.