Priebus: Visit from Philippines leader 'necessary' to deal with North Korea

"There's a chance we could end up having a major, major conflict with North Korea", Trump said.

"The discussion that transpired between the presidents was warm, with President Trump expressing his understanding and appreciation of the challenges facing the Philippine president, especially on the matter of unsafe drugs", Abella said in a statement. "I'm tied up", he told reporters yesterday in southern Davao city.

Concern over the standoff between North Korea and President Donald Trump's administration also was high on the agenda of the summit.

"We reiterate the call for dialogue partners to honor the valued principle of non-interference in the internal affairs of Asean member states, including respect for the right of every Member State to pursue its national interests free from external interference as enshrined in the United Nations and the Asean Charter", President Rodrigo Duterte said in his chairman's statement. Russian warships also visited Northern Philippines and Duterte had a short tour of the visiting ship.

Duterte has faced worldwide condemnation for his brutal crackdown on crime, which has claimed thousands of lives and led to warnings from rights groups about a possible crime against humanity.

Duterte has regularly hit out at the Philippines' one-time colonial ruler for perceived hypocrisy over human rights and previous year branded then USA president Barack Obama a "son of a whore" for criticizing the drug war. But Mr Duterte insists his security forces are not breaking any laws.

"By essentially endorsing Duterte's murderous war on drugs, Trump is now morally complicit in future killings", John Sifton of Human Rights Watch told the Times.

On Sunday, the White House defended its invitation, saying it needed Duterte's cooperation to stand up to North Korea.

While the leaders of the 10-nation Association of Southeast Asian Nations were careful not to criticize China by name, they let it be known that Chinese actions had eroded trust and raised tensions.

Duterte past year branded Obama a "son of a whore" in response to the criticism.

North Korea's latest ballistic missile test early Saturday came hours after U.S. Secretary of State Rex Tillerson mounted an effort at the United Nations to rally pressure against Kim Jong Un's government. Duterte has said he would caution the United States president to avoid a heated confrontation with Kim.

Duterte boarded the missile destroyer Chang Chun which arrived with two other vessels in Davao City on Sunday, April 30, for a 3-day goodwill visit.

Mr Duterte, who was elected a year ago, has distanced himself from the United States, his country's traditional longtime ally.

A White House statement described the call as "very friendly" and said the US-Philippine alliance "is now heading in a very positive direction".

Philippine President Rodrigo Duterte, who chaired the one-day summit, said the leaders were anxious that if war broke out in the Korean peninsula, the region would "suffer immensely". "If China continues to be shrewd and takes ASEAN on another ride, then ASEAN will be much worse off".

  • Leroy Wright