In reversal, Philippines leader tells Tillerson: ‘I am your humble friend’
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Philippines President Rodrigo Duterte on Monday said Secretary of State Rex TillersonRex Wayne TillersonTillerson: Using American aid for 'some kind of personal gain [is] wrong' Nikki Haley fires the first shot in the GOP's post-Trump war State Dept. watchdog: Official's firing was case of political retaliation MORE should consider him a "humble friend" as the two met, NBC news reported Monday.

"I am your humble friend in Southeast Asia," Duterte said to Tillerson at the Association of Southeast Asian Nations (ASEAN) forum in Manila, according to the network.

Duterte's comments contrast with the tumultuous relationship the leader had with former President Obama, whom he told once told to "go to hell." Duterte later apologized for his hostile remarks to Obama.

President Trump, however, appears to be fostering a closer relationship with the controversial leader than his predecessor.


Tillerson and Duterte reportedly discussed their joint military efforts to combat militant fighters in the southern Philippines island of Mindanao.

The secretary of State said the U.S. is providing the Philippines with training, aid, information and military aircraft.

"We are providing some training and some guidance in terms of how to deal with an enemy that fights in ways that is not like most people have ever had to deal with, so it’s a tragic situation down there," Tillerson said at the forum, according to NBC News.

Duterte has largely been accused of human rights violations during his government's crackdown on drug dealers, which has reportedly cost thousands of people their lives.

Tillerson on Monday reportedly dismissed the notion that working with the controversial leader would create a “big contradiction.”

“We see no conflict at all in our helping them with that situation and our views of the human rights concerns we have with respect to how they carry out their counter narcotics activities,” Tillerson said, NBC News reported.