Trump offers to 'mediate' in sea dispute

Posted November 13, 2017

The Philippine leader also lashed out again at United Nations human rights expert Agnès Callamard, the Special Rapporteur on extrajudicial, summary, or arbitrary executions. "I take care of my country and I will nurture my country to health", Duterte told reporters before leaving for Vietnam.

'We can expect East Asian leaders to exercise a diplomatic blind eye to the killings of thousands of Filipinos over the past 16 months as part of Duterte's drug war'.

In 2016, after noting that Hitler slaughtered millions of Jewish people during the Holocaust, Duterte said: "There are 3 million drug addicts (in the Philippines.) I'd be happy to slaughter them".

"You f**k with my countrymen, I won't let you off the hook". Trump told Duterte in a telephone call in April that he was doing a "great job" with his campaign against drugs.

"You want to ask a question, I'll give you an answer".

In the past, Duterte has repeatedly said he will raise the sea dispute at the proper time and avoided the issue when Manila hosted two regional meetings this year.

Relations have since improved and Chinese President Xi Jinping is visiting Hanoi later on Sunday. He added that the two need to "jointly uphold peace and stability" in the region.

US Navy ships have also carried out freedom of navigation patrols in the area, angering China, which says the territorial issues should be handled directly between countries in the region. Beijing's sweeping claims also overlap with those of the Philippines, Malaysia, Brunei, and Taiwan.

Tensions in the contested waters have ratcheted up since 2014 as China has turned sandbars into islands, equipping them with airfields, ports and weapons systems and warned United States warships and aircraft to stay away from them.

Though Trump administration officials said the President would address human rights with the Philippine leader, national security adviser H.R. McMaster downplayed the importance of addressing human rights in Asia before Trump's trip.

He said that Trump and Xi had discussed ways to "prevent mishaps, misunderstandings and miscalculations" in the vital seaway.

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Trump acknowledged that China's position on the South China Sea was a problem.

The framework seeks to advance a 2002 Declaration of Conduct (DOC) of Parties in the South China Sea.

It's claims are based on its traditional "nine-dash line" - waters that extend hundreds of miles to the south and east of its island province of Hainan, abut its neighbors' claims and, in some cases, encroach upon them.