Obama scraps talks after ‘whore’ jibe

obamaUS President Barack Obama has cancelled a meeting with controversial Philippine President Rodrigo Duterte, who had earlier called him the “son of a whore”.

Mr. Duterte was responding to the US president’s promise to raise the issue of drug-related extra-judicial killings in the Philippines at their meeting.

The Philippine leader, known for his colourful language, has insulted prominent figures before, but this time it has had diplomatic consequences.

He has now said he regrets the remark.

“While the immediate cause was my strong comments to certain press questions that elicited concern and distress, we also regret that it came across as a personal attack on the US president,” a statement by his office revealed.

In the past, President Duterte has called Pope Francis the “son of a whore”, US Secretary of State John Kerry “crazy” and recently referred to the US ambassador to the Philippines a “gay son of a whore”.

Both he and President Obama are in Laos for the Association of Southeast Asian Nations (ASEAN) summit.

Mr. Duterte has been forced to apologise for offensive comments before, but this is the first time he has had to confront the reality of his outlandish behaviour on the international stage.

It is the president’s first overseas trip – an opportunity that many leaders would have used to cement ties with neighbouring countries and superpowers like China and the US.

Instead Mr. Duterte has spent the morning dampening down the controversy he created.

At the heart of this, is the fact that Mr Duterte isn’t used to being told what to do; and that he likes to display machismo and bravado, which plays well to his domestic audience.

But when he sits down for serious discussions with his ASEAN counterparts over the next couple of days, they’ll be looking for Asian discretion and subtlety, not diplomacy Duterte-style.

Mr Obama, who flew to Laos after attending the G20 meeting in Hangzhou, China, had been set to raise concerns about human rights abuses in the Philippines.

-BBC

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