Though presented with several opportunities to do so, President Donald Trump reportedly did not raise any concerns about human rights abuses or the "bloodstained" drug war being carried out by Philippine President Rodrigo Duterte during a face-to-face meeting on Monday.
"The issue of human rights did not arise. It was not brought up," said Harry Roque, a Duterte's spokesperson, after the two leaders met privately for bilateral talks. "It was President Duterte who brought up with President Trump the drug menace in the Philippines, and the US president appeared sympathetic and did not have any official position on the matter but was merely nodding his head."
According to Roque, "[Trump] stressed that he can be counted upon as a friend of the Duterte administration."
Ahead of the talks, Phelim Kine, deputy director of Human Rights Watch's Asia division, told the New York Times he predicted the world would likely "see an alpha-male bromance between the two... A lot of the issues that underpin the U.S.-Philippine relations will go unaddressed, and one of those will be rule of law."
Kine later said this photograph of Trump twisting his face as he held hands with Duterte over the weekend should "live in infamy."
May this image live in infamy: #Trump and #Australia PM @TurnbullMalcolm grasp the bloodstained hands of possible crimes-against-humanity suspect #Philippines Prez #Duterte Time for a @UN-led international probe @hrw https://t.co/PmbwIL6nGi pic.twitter.com/JHkX6lg5mg— Phelim Kine 林海 (@PhelimKine) November 13, 2017