President Trump in Asia

Reporting by John Roberts

President Trump sitting down with Filipino President Rodrigo Duterte was by far the most controversial of the many meetings he has had in Asia over the past 11 days.

President Duterte has presided over an aggressive drug war in the Philippines, marked by thousands of extra-judicial killings, though Duterte denies any involvement. The White House says President Trump “briefly’ brought up human rights during the bilateral meeting, but a spokesman for Duterte immediately contracted that.

“Well, there was no mention of human rights, there was no mention of extralegal killings, there was only a rather lengthy discussion about the Philippines’ war on drugs with President Duterte doing most of the explaining.”

Despite his disagreement over what was discussed, Duterte’s people say the relationship with President Trump is “warm and friendly.”

And at the ASEAN gala dinner Duterte even sang a love song with a famous Filipino pop star, saying he did it on orders from President Trump.

North Korea was high on the agenda as the president met again with Prime Minister Shinzo Abe of Japan and Australian Prime Minister Malcolm Turnbull. Last week, Abe pledged 100% support to President Trump. In Manila, it was Turnbull’s turn—

“We’ve got the same values and the same focus on ensuring that the North Korean regime comes to its senses and stops its reckless provocation and threats of conflict in our region.”

President Trump pledged a big announcement on North Korea when he returns to the White House on Wednesday along with his trade announcement.

“We’ve made a lot of big progress on trade. We have deficits with almost everybody. Those deficits are going to be cut very quickly and very substantially.”

The only glitch in the trip came after the APEC Summit in Vietnam. President Trump revealed that Russian President Vladimir Putin had again assured him he had nothing to do with meddling in the US election. Asked aboard Air Force One whether he believed Putin, the President said, “I really believe that when he tells me that, he means it.”