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Human rights ain’t the issue: Trump’s chief of staff says phone call to Duterte all about NoKor

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President Donald Trump’s chief of staff has defended his phone call to President Rodrigo Duterte amid criticism that it practically smacks of endorsing the firebrand politiko’s war on drugs.

In an interview over ABC, Reince Priebus said Trump had a phone conversation with Duterte on April 29 to discuss North Korea’s nuclear and missile tests.

“The purpose of this call is all about North Korea,” Priebus said.

“It doesn’t mean that human rights don’t matter,” he added.

Priebus said Duterte wasn’t the only Southeast Asian leader Trump spoke to over the weekend. He also talked on the phone with the prime ministers of Thailand and Singapore, and similarly invited them to visit the White House.

Trump’s chief of staff said the talks with Southeast Asian leaders are aimed at gaining their cooperation amid the growing threat of North Korea.

The US President’s phone call to Duterte and subsequent invitation for him to visit the White House has drawn flak from human rights groups.

The National Security Council and the State Department will reportedly summon administration officials over the phone call to seek clarification and raise objections.