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When asked earlier in the briefing about concerns that Trump was giving Duterte's human rights abuses his stamp of approval, Spicer said the goal of the White House invitation was to address North Korea.

Although Trump gave no timeframe for the invitation, Duterte on Monday told reporters he could not commit because he might be "tied up" with other overseas trips.

He also confirmed Trump invited Duterte to visit the White House. Jerusalem, which sells weapons to the Philippines, was reported last month to be planning the visit.

Duterte's statement on President Donald Trump's invitation is seen to come at a time when the Philippines is giving priority to its relations with China. The leader of our country is not here.

Thousands of Filipinos have been killed in Mr. Duterte's bloody drug war - with human rights watchers saying many fatalities in the crackdown could be extrajudicial killings committed by cops and vigilantes. But Duterte insists his security forces are not breaking any laws.

Unlike former US President Barack Obama, Trump has not openly criticized Duterte's anti-narcotics campaign, which has resulted in over 7,000 deaths.

North Korea wants to "end the world" and is playing a risky game which could have catastrophic results.

"The Philippines calls for the de-nuclearization of the Korean Peninsula and the resumption of meaningful dialogue, and welcomes the United States' efforts to consult with its allies and partners in the region on this shared concern", he added. "According to their conversation, the President of the US has already acknowledged the fact that the President is doing a great job considering the weight and the enormity of the conditions in the Philippines".

A day after news broke that President Trump had instigated a publicly friendly relationship with a man many call a murderous authoritarian, Duterte said that he may be too busy to take President Trump up on his offer. "Things have changed, there is a new leadership". In a telephone call, Trump also affirmed America's alliance and friendship with the Philippines and its president, who has maintained an antagonistic stance toward U.S. security policies.

The White House has defended Donald Trump's decision to invite Philippines President Rodrigo Duterte to Washington despite concerns over alleged human rights abuses. The nuclear threat posed by North Korea - and how the Trump administration will deal with the secretive country - was brought up during a discussion with ASEAN leaders, according to a statement.

US and Philippine officials said Trump's calls and invitations to several Asian allies including Duterte were aimed at discussing the crisis over North Korea's nuclear threats.

Priebus said the conversations were prompted by the "potential for nuclear and massive destruction in Asia" and eventually in the US.

Last year, then-UN chief Ban Ki-moon strongly condemned Duterte's support for the extra-judicial killings, calling them "a breach of fundamental human rights and freedoms". "Now, there are three million drug addicts [in the Philippines]".

  • Salvatore Jensen