Obama meets Duterte pri­vately de­spite in­sults

Chronicle (Zimbabwe) - - Worldwide -

VIENTIANE — US Pres­i­dent Barack Obama and Philip­pine Pres­i­dent Ro­drigo Duterte met in­for­mally on Wed­nes­day in a hold­ing room be­fore at­tend­ing a gala din­ner at a re­gional sum­mit, Philip­pine of­fi­cials said.

e brief meeting took a lit­tle sting out of the soured re­la­tions caused by Duterte’s in­tem­per­ate lan­guage in re­fer­ring to Obama ear­lier this week. That had caused Obama to can­cel a for­mal meeting sched­uled for Tues­day.

Philip­pine For­eign Sec­re­tary Per­fecto Yasay said 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.”

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.

Ac­cord­ing to a White House of­fi­cial, who would not be named dis­cussing the pri­vate meeting: 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 told Philip­pine re­porters he wouldn’t ac­cept 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. Pu­tang ina, I will swear at you in that fo­rum,” Duterte said, us­ing the Ta­ga­log phrase for “son of a b. . . .”.

On Tues­day, Duterte ex­pressed re­gret over the re­marks, but the dam­age was done. — AFP

Ro­drigo Duterte

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