Philippines president tells Trump he may not be able to visit US because he’s ‘supposed to go to Israel’

JTA

Rodrigo Duterte

Philippines president Rodrigo Duterte at a campaign rally in Manila, May 1, 2016. (Dondi Tawatao/Getty Images)

(JTA) — The president of the Philippines, Rodrigo Duterte, told President Donald Trump that he may not be able to visit the White House because he is “supposed to go to” Israel and Russia.

Responding to Trump’s invitation on Saturday to visit the United States, Duterte said on Monday, “I cannot make any definite promise. I’m supposed to go to Russia; I’m also supposed to go to Israel,” The New York Times reported.

Also on Monday Israel’s Foreign Ministry said that there was no set date for Duterte’s visit, which he had reportedly been planning since last month, The Times of Israel reported.

Trump drew criticism for inviting Duterte, who is accused of ordering extrajudicial killings as part of his war on drugs.

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“Celebrating a man who boasts of killing his own citizens and inviting him to the White House, while remaining silent on his disgusting human rights record, sends a terrifying message,” said John Sifton, the Asia director of Human Rights Watch, according to Reuters.

In September, Duterte was condemned by Israeli leaders and Jewish groups for comparing his campaign to eliminate drug use in his country to the Holocaust, saying he would like to kill millions of drug dealers and users. He later apologized for his remarks.

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