Philippine President Rodrigo Duterte said Monday he considers himself a "humble friend" of Secretary of State Rex Tillerson, according to a report.
"I am your humble friend in Southeast Asia," Duterte said of Tillerson, according to NBC News.
Tillerson is in the Philippines to attend the annual meeting of Asean, the Association of Southeast Asian Nations, and told reporters Monday the top item on his agenda is North Korea, as well as efforts to counter the emergence of ISIS-linked fighters in the Philippines.
The secretary of state said the U.S. has provided the Philippines with surveillance capabilities, as well as training and guidance for fighting ISIS. Tillerson specifically said the U.S. has given the country several drones and Cessna aircraft.
The Trump administration has been criticized for establishing a relationship with Duterte, who once told former President Barack Obama "you can go to hell." Since Duterte came to power in June 2016, police have killed thousands of alleged drug offenders as part of his brutal war on drugs.
Trump invited Duterte to the White House after the two talked on the phone in April, a conversation the White House described as "very friendly."
Tillerson is expected to discuss with Duterte the human rights abuses in the Philippines, and the secretary of state dismissed the notion that there is a "contradiction" between the aid the U.S. is providing the Philippines in its fight against ISIS and Duterte's brutal crackdown on drugs.
"I see no conflict, no conflict at all in our helping them with that situation and our views of other human rights concerns we have with respect to how they carry out their counternarcotics activities," Tillerson told reporters Monday.