Obama, Duterte meet despite Filipino prez’s crude language
US President Barack Obama and Philippine President Rodrigo Duterte have met informally in a holding room, before attending a gala dinner at a regional summit, Philippine officials said.
The brief meeting on Wednesday took a little sting out of the soured relations caused by Duterte’s vulgar language against Obama earlier this week. That had caused Obama to cancel a formal meeting scheduled for Tuesday.
Philippine Foreign Secretary Perfecto Yasay confirmed that the leaders had met. “They met at the holding room and they were the last persons to leave the holding room. I can’t say how long they met. It all springs from the fact the relationship between the Philippines and the United States is firm, very strong. The basis for this relationship is historical and both leaders realise this. And I’m very happy that it happened,” he said.
Obama and Duterte are in the Laotian capital along with other regional leaders for the summit. All of them made their way through the holding room before heading to the banquet hall. A White House official, requesting anonymity, said: “Obama had a brief discussion with Duterte before the ASEAN Gala Dinner in the leaders’ holding space. The exchange consisted of pleasantries between the two.”
On Monday, hours before arriving in Laos, Duterte had told Philippine reporters he would not entertain questions from Obama about extrajudicial killings that have occurred during his crackdown on suspected drug dealers and users. More than 2,000 people have been killed in the crackdown since he took office on June 30.
“I do not have any master except the Filipino people, nobody but nobody. You must be respectful. Do not just throw questions. Putangina, I will swear at you in that forum,” Duterte said, using the Tagalog phrase for “son of a bitch.”