President Trump on Saturday extended a White House invite to his Philippine counterpart, a self-proclaimed killer.
Trump and President Rodrigo Duterte addressed North Korea's growing nuclear capabilities as a threat to nearby nations, including the Philippines, according to a White House readout of the phone call.
At a press conference on Saturday, Duterte said he was waiting for Trump's phone call and that he would urge the U.S. to stop provoking the North.
He fears escalating tensions could lead to a nuclear "holocaust."
"My region will suffer immensely," Duterte said, after hosting the Association of Southeast Asian Nations summit in Manila.
"It would be good for America to just restrain a little bit and if I were President Trump, I'll just back out, not really in surrender and retreat, but just to let the guy realize that, 'ah, please do not do it,' " he added.
The two leaders also discussed Duterte's bloody war on drugs, which has left at least 3,000 people dead at the hands of law enforcement since he entered office in 2016.
The White House did not dive into the specifics of Duterte's anti-drug campaign, aside from mentioning that the Philippines is "fighting very hard to rid its country of drugs."
Duterte's penchant for brash language earned him the "Filipino Trump" nickname during his presidential campaign. Last year, he admitted to killing at least three people while serving as the Davao City mayor — to set an example to his police force.
"It happened," he said in December.
He also blasted former President Barack Obama as a "son of a whore" for criticizing his country's extrajudicial killings. Duterte has chosen softer words for Trump, calling him "realistic and a pragmatic thinker."
The White House painted the Trump and Duterte's phone call as a "friendly conversation," adding that their relations are going in "a very positive direction."
Trump is slated to visit Manila for the East Asia Summit in November.
Details of Duterte's visit are unclear and the White House did not elaborate on whether the Philippine leader's itinerary will include a stopover at Trump's Mar-a-Lago estate in Florida.
Trump garnered criticism in early April for hosting Egypt's autocratic leader, President Abdel Fattah el-Sissi, in the Oval Office. He appeared unfazed that el-Sissi gained power in the Middle East with a military takeover and was repeatedly slammed by Obama for human rights violations.
With News Wire Services