Trump, Duterte meet for first time at APEC summit

Philippines’ President Rodrigo Duterte speaks next to Brunei’s Sultan Hassanal Bolkiah during the APEC-ASEAN dialogue, on the sidelines of the APEC summit, in Danang, Vietnam on November 10. (Reuters)
Updated 11 November 2017
0

Trump, Duterte meet for first time at APEC summit

DANANG, Vietnam: US President Donald Trump met Philippine President Rodrigo Duterte for the first time at the Asia Pacific Economic Cooperation (APEC) summit in Vietnam on Saturday.
The meeting was “short but was warm and cordial,” Duterte’s spokesman, Harry Roque, told reporters.
“The leaders were generally pleased to finally meet each other in person,” he said.
Trump told Duterte “see you tomorrow,” Roque said.
Both the leaders are in Danang, Vietnam for the APEC summit. Trump will head to Manila on Sunday for the Association of Southeast Asian Nations (ASEAN) summit on the last leg of his 12-day Asian trip.
Duterte — sometimes described ‘Trump of the East’ because of his brash and mercurial style — had said on Wednesday that he would tell the US president to “lay off” if he raised the issue of human rights when they met.
More than 3,900 Filipinos have been killed in what the police call self-defense in Duterte’s war on drugs. Critics say executions are taking place with zero accountability, allegations the police reject.
But Trump, who has been criticized at home for neglecting rights issues in dealings abroad, in May praised Duterte for doing an “unbelievable job on the drug problem.”
Human rights, rule of law and due process were among topics Trump and Duterte would likely discuss during their bilateral talks, Sung Kim, US ambassador to Manila, had said last month.


Acting Pentagon chief not decided yet on funding US-Mexico border wall

Updated 17 February 2019
0

Acting Pentagon chief not decided yet on funding US-Mexico border wall

  • President Donald Trump has declared a national emergency in a bid to fund his promised wall at the US-Mexico border without congressional approval
  • Within hours, the action was challenged in a lawsuit filed on behalf of three Texas landowners

ABOARD A US MILITARY AIRCRAFT: Acting US Defense Secretary Patrick Shanahan said on Saturday he had not yet determined whether a border wall with Mexico was a military necessity or how much Pentagon money would be used.
President Donald Trump on Friday declared a national emergency in a bid to fund his promised wall at the US-Mexico border without congressional approval.
A US defense official, speaking on the condition of anonymity, said that Shanahan was likely to approve the $3.6 billion being redirected from the military construction budget.
By declaring a national emergency, Trump can use certain Department of Defense funding to build the wall.
According to the law, the defense secretary has to decide whether the wall is militarily necessary before money from the military construction budget can be used.
“We always anticipated that this would create a lot of attention and since moneys potentially could be redirected, you can imagine the concern this generates,” Shanahan told reporters traveling back with him from his trip to Afghanistan, the Middle East and Europe.
“Very deliberately, we have not made any decisions, we have identified the steps we would take to make those decisions,” Shanahan said.
He added that military planners had done the initial analysis and he would start reviewing it on Sunday.
Officials have said that the administration had found nearly $7 billion to reallocate to the wall, including about $3.6 billion from the military construction budget and $2.5 billion from a Defense Department drug interdiction fund.
The US defense official said Shanahan would meet with the service secretaries in the coming days to pick which specific projects the money should come from.
Shanahan said that planners had identified the different sources of money that could be used, but he had not decided specifically what projects it would impact and ultimately it was his decision.
“I am not required to do anything,” he said.
Shanahan said he did not expect to take money away from projects like military housing.
Poor standards of military housing were highlighted by recent Reuters reporting, which described rampant mold and pest infestations, childhood lead poisoning, and service families often powerless to challenge private landlords in business with their military employers.
“Military housing, what’s been interesting- I’ve received a number of letters, I’ve had lots of feedback, do not jeopardize projects that are underway,” Shanahan said.
“As we step our way through the process, we’ll use good judgment,” Shanahan said.
The Republican president’s move, circumventing Congress, seeks to make good on a 2016 presidential campaign pledge to build a border wall that Trump insists is necessary to curtail illegal immigration.
Within hours, the action was challenged in a lawsuit filed on behalf of three Texas landowners.
“We are following the law, using the rules and we’re not bending the rules,” Shanahan said.