Trump’s chief of staff, Reince Priebus, said friendlier ties are needed now more than ever despite concerns over Duterte’s human rights record, which includes extrajudicial killings of suspected drug dealers and suspects.

“The purpose of this call is all about North Korea,” Priebus told ABC’s This Week on Sunday.

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

Trump also spoke to the prime ministers of Thailand and Singapore in separate phone calls about the North Korean threat and invited both of them to Washington.

It follows similar calls with China and Japan last week.

Priebus said co-operation at some level was needed with as many partners in the area “to make sure that we have our ducks in a row.”

Priebus said the conversations were prompted by the “potential for nuclear and massive destruction in Asia” and eventually in the US.