After Trump's Surprise Invite, Duterte Hedges: 'I'm Tied Up'

Philippines leader accused of human rights abuses weighs invitation to White House
By Newser Editors,  Newser Staff
Posted May 1, 2017 12:22 PM CDT
Controversial Filipino Leader May Not Accept Trump's Invite
Philippines President Rodrigo Duterte.   (AP Photo/Bullit Marquez)

President Trump generated controversy over the weekend when he invited a world leader condemned for human rights abuses to the White House. But it turns out that Rodrigo Duterte of the Philippines may not be coming anyway. "I'm tied up," he told reporters Monday, per the AP. "I cannot make any definite promise." Duterte has been accused of ordering the mass killing of drug suspects in his country, and in an otherwise routine phone call on Saturday, Trump made the surprise move of inviting him to the US. Given the allegations against Duterte, it's not even clear whether he would receive a travel visa from the US if he eventually decides to accept, reports the New York Times.

“By essentially endorsing Duterte’s murderous war on drugs, Trump is now morally complicit in future killings,” says John Sifton of Human Rights Watch, voicing a common sentiment among critics of the move. Democratic Sen. Christopher Murphy complained that "we are watching in real time as the American human rights bully pulpit disintegrates into ash.” On Sunday, chief of staff Reince Priebus argued that the outreach to Duterte is necessary as part of the regional push to contain the North Korea crisis, reports CNN. "The issues facing us developing out of North Korea are so serious that we need cooperation at some level with as many partners in the area as we can get." (More Rodrigo Duterte stories.)

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