Obama uncertain he’ll meet Duterte at Asean Summit
HANGZHOU, China – US President Barack Obama says he has asked his staff to assess whether it would be productive for him to meet with Philippine President Rodrigo Duterte. This, after Duterte warned Obama not to question him about extrajudicial killings in his country.
Obama was asked at a news conference in China on Monday whether he intends to meet Duterte, as planned, at a gathering in Laos this week of the Association of Southeast Asian Nations.
Duterte, responding to a reporter who asked about the prospects of talking human rights issues with the US leader, said Obama should not question him about extrajudicial killings, or, as he put it, “son of a bitch, I will swear at you” when they meet in Laos.
Obama said he had heard about the comment and instructed his aides to determine whether it would still be productive to hold the face-to-face meeting.
Duterte said before flying to Laos that he is a leader of a sovereign country and is answerable only to the Filipino people. He was answering a reporter’s question about how he intends to explain the extrajudicial killings to Obama. More than 2,000 suspected drug pushers and users have been killed since Duterte launched a war on drugs after taking office on June 30.
In his typical foul-mouthed style, Duterte responded: “I am a president of a sovereign state and we have long ceased to be a colony. 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,” he said, using the Tagalog phrase for son of a bitch.
Duterte has earlier cursed the pope and U.N. Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon.
It isn’t clear whether Obama plans to raise the issue of extrajudicial killings with Duterte during a meeting on the sidelines of the summit of the Association of Southeast Asian Nations.
“Who is he to confront me?” Duterte said, adding that the Philippines had not received an apology for misdeeds committed during the U.S. colonization of the Philippines.
He pointed to the killing of Muslim Moros more than a century ago during a U.S. pacification campaign in the southern Philippines, blaming the wounds of the past as “the reason why (the south) continues to boil” with separatist insurgencies.
Duterte also pointed to human rights problems in the United States.
Last week, Duterte said he was ready to defend his bloody crackdown on illegal drugs, which has sparked concern from the U.S. and other countries.
Duterte said he would demand that Obama allow him to first explain the context of his crackdown before engaging the U.S. president in a discussion of the deaths.
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