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Trump invites Philippines president Rodrigo Duterte to White House

President Trump has invited Rodrigo Duterte, the president of the Philippines, to the White House after a "very friendly" phone conversation, the White House said in a statement Saturday.

Mr. Trump and Duterte will "discuss the importance of the United States-Philippines alliance, which is now heading in a very positive direction," the White House said. 

As recently as December, Duterte threatened to end his country's relationship with the U.S. when he believed the U.S. had ended aid over human rights concerns. "We can survive without American money," he said. 

Philippines president recalls conversation with Donald Trump 01:58

Duterte publicly sparred with former President Obama by using curses and racial epithets to describe him. Duterte has also cursed Pope Francis and U.N. Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon.   

Duterte has been criticized for his brutal anti-drug crackdown, which has left thousands of suspected dealers and users dead since he became president in June 2016. In March, a retired Philippine police officer testified that Duterte and his men were linked to nearly 200 killings that took place when Duterte was mayor of Davao city. 

In December, Duterte said that in a phone call, Mr. Trump praised his anti-drug crackdown. "He wishing me success in my campaign on the drug problem," Duterte said.  

According to the White House's readout of the call between Mr. Trump and Duterte, the pair discussed "the fact that the Philippine government is fighting very hard to rid its country of drugs, a scourge that affects many countries throughout the world." 

The White House said they also talked about the ongoing tensions with North Korea, and the concerns of the Association of Southeast Asian Nations, whose leaders met this weekend in Manila.

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