DFA: Duterte looks forward to ‘ironing out differences’ with Obama
The Department of Foreign Affairs (DFA) on Tuesday said President Rodrigo Duterte looks forward to “ironing out differences” with US President Barack Obama after his strong off-the-cuff comments that caused uproar and deep concerns in the diplomatic community.
“President Duterte explained that the press reports that President Obama would ‘lecture’ him on extrajudicial killings led to his strong comments, which in turn elicited concern. He regrets that his remarks to the press have caused much controversy,” said a DFA statement on Tuesday.
The department said Duterte was asserting his intent to chart an independent foreign policy and promote closer ties with all nations. “He expressed his deep regard and affinity for President Obama and for the enduring partnership between our nations.”
Duterte was supposed to hold a bilateral meeting with US President Obama along with eight other world leaders at the sidelines of the 49th Asean Leaders Summit in Vientiane, Laos. But during a press briefing late Monday, an irate Duterte warned that he would curse Obama if the latter would raise the extrajudicial killings of drug suspects in the Philippines during the meeting.
In turn, the White House cancelled the scheduled meeting of Obama with President Duterte.
“Both delegations, however, have agreed that in the light of the issues that still need to be worked on, the bilateral meeting between the two nations will be postponed to a later date,” said the DFA statement.
The DFA however did not specify the new schedule for the bilateral meeting of two leaders.
Duterte affirmed that the Philippines continues to value the alliance with the US, citing both countries share common goals in the fight against illegal drugs, terrorism, crime and poverty.
Duterte also thanked Obama’s firm support to the Philippines’ position to peaceful settlement of disputes in the South China Sea and to stop China’s continuing military incursions in the disputed waters.
In particular, Duterte lauded Obama’s initiative to raise the issue of the need for China to abide by the rule of law in dealing with sea disputes at the recent G20 Summit held in China.
“The President looks forward to ironing out differences arising out of national priorities and perceptions, and working in mutually responsible ways for both countries,” said the DFA statement.
It added that Duterte is mindful of the fact that in securing and preserving the rights and liberties of our people, “it is imperative that the fight against illegal drugs, terrorist, crimes and poverty must be won in order to preserve the principle and values upon which our democratic way of life is anchored.” CDG
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