Duterte appeals to Trump: Keep restraint over North Korea

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Metro Manila (CNN Philippines, April 29) — President Rodrigo Duterte said he will ask United States President Donald Trump in a phone call tonight not to go to war with North Korea to spare the region from suffering.

Read: Bilateral talks, Trump phone call expected in ASEAN Summit today

In a press conference after the 30th Association of Southeast Asian Nations (ASEAN) Summit, Duterte said he expects Trump to call him later in the evening to discuss Washington’s row with Pyongyang over its nuclear program, which has raised tension on the Korean peninsula.

“Who am I to say that he should stop? But I will say, Mr. President, just see to it there is no war because my region will suffer immensely — the first fallout would be us and Asia, very near, very dangerous,” Duterte said.

“I’m sure President Trump by now is cautioning his military to just hang on there and not to start something which they cannot control,” he added. "And it behooves upon America who wields the biggest stick just to really to be prudent and patient."

Related: Bilateral talks, Trump phone call expected in ASEAN Summit today

The statement comes after ASEAN foreign ministers on Friday expressed "grave concern" on Pyongyang's two nuclear tests in 2016 and ballistic missile launches.

North Korea reportedly appealed to ASEAN secretary general Lê Lương Minh for support to prevent “a nuclear holocaust” in light of U.S. and South Korean military exercises in the region.

Related: ASEAN Foreign Ministers push for denuclearization despite North Korea's appeal for support

But Duterte did not side with Washington either, saying both the U.S. and North Korea are “playing with their toys.”

“There seems to be two countries playing with their toys, and their toys are not really to entertain,” he said. “We have to caution everybody, including those who would give the advice to the two players, because they are the nuclear warheads, to just assure restraint.”

He even likened North Korea’s missile to a kuwitis, a local firecracker, and added he would not want to go into the mind of North Korean leader Kim Jong-Un “because I really do not know what is inside.”

“If he enjoys, let him... He’s always smiling. But he wants to finish everything,” said Duterte. “And they will drag us all down.”