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Trump Praised Duterte's Drug Crackdown, Said U.S. Has Nuclear Subs Near N. Korea

by Andrew Rafferty /
Image: Philippine President Rodrigo Duterte
Philippine President Rodrigo Duterte speaks during a news conference after the 30th Association of Southeast Asian Nations (ASEAN) summit in Manila, Philippines Saturday.ERIK DE CASTRO / Reuters

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President Donald Trump told Philippine President Rodrigo Duterte he is doing “a great job” handling his nation’s drug problems and revealed the U.S. had two nuclear submarines near North Korea, according to a transcript of a phone conversation obtained by the Washington Post.

Duterte has been widely condemned for sanctioning violence against suspected drug dealers. A State Department official told reporters after last month’s call that the U.S. has discussed concerns about the Philippines drug war on multiple occasions.

But the transcript of the call, circulated by the Philippines government, shows Trump praised the leader for doing an “unbelievable job on the drug problem.”

A senior White House official confirmed to the Post that the transcript is accurate.

Trump also called North Korean dictator Kim Jong Un a “madman with nuclear weapons” and revealed the U.S. has two nuclear submarines near the peninsula that he hopes not to use.

“We can’t let a madman with nuclear weapons let on the loose like that. We have a lot of firepower, more than he has, times 20 — but we don’t want to use it,” Trump said.

Revealing the sensitive military information is likely to raise more concerns about what the president divulges to other foreign leaders. Earlier this month, Trump told Russian officials about classified information regarding ISIS.

Trump has denied giving Russians any information that could compromise U.S. intelligence gathering efforts.

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