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Smiles and snaps: Trump and Putin's delicate diplomatic dance

Smiles and snaps: Trump and Putin's delicate diplomatic dance

His latest comments come ahead of him hosting US President Donald Trump and other leaders for the Association of Southeast Asian Nations (ASEAN) summit.

Trump says "I'm a very good mediator", but his offer faces many obstacles: for one, China doesn't want the U.S. meddling in the disputes and has balked at the U.S. Navy's incursions into what Beijing considers its territorial waters in the South China Sea.

Philippines President Rodrigo Duterte, who plays host to world leaders from Sunday, has said repeatedly in recent months he has never incited his police or vigilantes to kill illegally.

"It was red carpet like nobody, I think, has probably ever received", Trump said.

Duterte, speaking in a mixture of Tagalog and English, said: "Jail?"

Brennan said Trump's ambiguity on Russia's involvement was "very, very worrisome from a national security standpoint".

The foreign ministers of Asean member states and China adopted a framework for the code of conduct on maritime disputes in August, though it remains to be seen whether the final product would be legally binding.

The question of whether the U.S. and Russian leaders will hold official discussions on the sidelines of the APEC summit in the resort city of Danang has added a layer of diplomatic intrigue to an event dominated by trade discussions.

Duterte is determined to show that even the United States president is behind him, while Trump is eager to display his personal diplomacy and ability to win back estranged allies.

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Duterte, whose controversial war on drugs is said to have claimed an estimated 13,000 lives, also said that the menace of illegal drug trade continued to endanger the very fabric of societies.

Critics, however, say Duterte has empowered police to murder suspected drug users and dealers with impunity. And nearly all of them also have the same problem. In April, a leaked transcript showed that Trump called Duterte to congratulate him on doing an "unbelievable job on the drug problem", as my colleagues Jeremy Scahill, Alex Emmons, and Ryan Grim have reported.

That invitation generated some outrage from human rights groups.

Duterte believed Obama was "oblivious to the actual threat presented by drugs in the Philippines", the spokesman declared.

Karapatan secretary-general Cristina Palabay said it was hypocritical for the two to even discuss the topic given their tracklist of human rights violations.

Human rights group Karapatan said a meeting between Duterte and Trump on human rights will be "one big sick joke". How much more now that I am president?'

Asean and China also highlighted the role of witnesses in identifying and prosecuting corruptors and said they would develop "an effective protection system for witnesses in corruption cases, where appropriate".

In particular, this was due to the Trump administration's explicit and conscious decision to prioritise strategic cooperation with Asian allies over promotion of human rights and democracy values.


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