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Obama Does Not Take Duterte's Vulgar Comment Personally

  • VOA Staff

Philippine President Rodrigo Duterte arrives at the National Convention Center for scheduled bilateral meetings with ASEAN leaders on the sidelines of the 28th and 29th ASEAN Summits and other related summits Tuesday, Sept. 6, 2016.

Philippine President Rodrigo Duterte arrives at the National Convention Center for scheduled bilateral meetings with ASEAN leaders on the sidelines of the 28th and 29th ASEAN Summits and other related summits Tuesday, Sept. 6, 2016.

President Barack Obama says comments by Philippine leader Rodrigo Duterte will not impact U.S. relations with the people of the Philippines.

He said they leaders shook hands during a brief interaction at an Association of Southeast Asian Nations dinner Wednesday in Laos.

The White House canceled a meeting between the two Tuesday, after Duterte called Obama a "son of a b****" in a warning not to lecture him about his government's crackdown on drug traffickers that has left 2,000 people dead since June. Duterte later expressed regrets.

Obama said, "I do not take these comments personally, because ... this is a phrase he has used repeatedly, including directed at the pope and others." Obama added, "What I indicated to him is that my team should be meeting with his to determine how we can move forward on a range of issues."

U.S. President Barack Obama speaks during a news conference at the Landmark Mekong Riverside Hotel in Vientiane, Laos, Sept. 8, 2016, after attending the ASEAN Summit.

U.S. President Barack Obama speaks during a news conference at the Landmark Mekong Riverside Hotel in Vientiane, Laos, Sept. 8, 2016, after attending the ASEAN Summit.

Duterte campaigned on promises to end illegal drug activity, and has alarmed a number of human rights organizations with his deadly crackdown. He has defended the killings, saying he is following the will of those who elected him.

Obama said Thursday the United States wants to partner with the Philippines on the issue of drug traffickers, but in a way that is consistent with international norms and the rule of law.

"We are not going to back off our position that if we are working with a country - whether it is on anti-terrorism, whether it is on going after drug traffickers, as despicable as these networks may be, as much damage as they do, it is important from our perspective to do it the right way," the U.S. president said.

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