President Trump praised Philippines President Rodrigo Duterte during a phone call last month for his “unbelievable job on the drug problem," The New York Times reported. Duterte's government has sanctioned the shootings of drug suspects in the streets.
The comments were included in a Philippines transcript of the conversation that was tagged "confidential" that was circulated by the Americas division of the Philippine Department of Foreign Affairs.
Duterte's strategies for fighting drugs in his home country have been condemned by human rights groups around the world because of the killings of thousands of suspects without arrests or trials. The program has been criticized in the State Department's annual human rights report.
After President Trump praised Duterte, the Philippines president responded by saying “the scourge of my nation now, and I have to do something to preserve the Filipino nation.”
Trump and Duterte also discussed the rising tensions with North Korea.
“As long as those rockets and warheads are in the hands of Kim Jong Un we will never be safe as there’s no telling what will happen next,” said Duterte.
Trump let Duterte know that the U.S. had stationed two submarines off the coast of the Korean Peninsula, but that he did not want to use them.