The president of the Philippines said that President-elect Donald Trump supports his efforts to stop drug problems in his country.
"I could sense a good rapport, an animated President-elect Trump," President Rodrigo Duterte said following his Dec. 2 phone call with Trump, according to Reuters. "And he was wishing me success in my campaign against the drug problem."
Duterte has been using force to eradicate his country’s massive drug problem to “preserve the interest of the next generation,” The Washington Post reports.
“If you destroy my country, I'll kill you,” Duterte previously said. "That's a legitimate thing. If you destroy our young children, I will kill you. That is a very correct statement.”
President Barack Obama has raised concerns that Duterte’s methods may be human rights abuses. More than 2,000 people have been killed since the Philippines war on drugs began under Duterte, Reuters notes.
Duterte has referred to Obama as a “son of a bitch” and told him to “go to hell.”
Trump said while on the campaign trail that his remarks about Obama showed "a lack of respect" for the U.S., while stressing the “very important strategic location” of the Philippines.
During the seven minute phone call with Trump, Duterte reportedly found him to be “sensitive” and understanding about his crackdown.
"He understood the way we are handling it ... I supposed that what he really wanted to say was that we would be the last to interfere in the affairs of your own country,” Duterte said.
"We are doing it as a sovereign nation, the right way,” he said. “And he wishes us well. And I said that, well, we assured him of our ties with America."
Trump’s transition team said the two “noted the long history of friendship” between their countries and said they would work closely on “matters of shared interest and concern.”
While in China in October, Duterte announced he was separating the Philippines from the U.S. He has also pursued a new alliance with Russia since taking office.
A source close to the Trump transition team on security policy said that the president-elect would start a “clean slate” with Duterte.
"He is perfectly capable of talking to Duterte in an open way without being wedded to previous policy failures," the source said of Trump.