Filipino president Rodrigo Duterte has been invited by the European Union to attend the Asia-Europe Meeting in Brussels in October.

EU Ambassador to the Philippines Franz Jessen confirmed that the invitation was sent on January 23. The ambassador said he hopes Duterte’s visit to Europe may give the chief executive a “more positive understanding of the European Union”.

As reported by ABS-CBN News, Duterte has repeatedly blasted the EU for criticising his anti-narcotics war and at one point dared its envoys to leave the Philippines.

The Filipino president had earlier explained that EU members, who have expressed concern over deaths in his drug war, do not understand the magnitude of the country’s narcotics problem. Duterte had also blasted the bloc for its supposed undue interference in the Philippines’ internal affairs.

Last year, the Philippines announced it would no longer accept new grants from the EU because of its criticism of the crackdown on illegal drugs.