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Obama meets Duterte after 'whore' slur: Philippines

The encounter took place just before a dinner during a summit of regional leaders in Laos, according to the Philippine delegation.

Published: 08th September 2016 03:15 AM  |   Last Updated: 08th September 2016 03:16 AM   |  A+A-

OBAMA
By PTI

VIENTIANE: Barack Obama briefly met with Philippine leader Rodrigo Duterte today, Manila said, two days after the firebrand politician branded the US president a "son of a whore".

The encounter took place just before a dinner during a summit of regional leaders in Laos, according to the Philippine delegation.

"They met at the holding room and they were the last people to leave the holding room. I can't say how long they met," Foreign Secretary Perfecto Yasay, travelling with Duterte, told reporters shortly afterwards.

"I'm very happy that it happened."

Senator Alan Cayetano, one of Duterte's close aides travelling with him, also said the meeting took place.

However the White House had no immediate comment and the Philippines did not elaborate on what was said.

Obama cancelled yesterday's planned meeting with Duterte on the sidelines of the Association of Southeast Asian Nations-hosted summit after the notoriously acid-tongued Philippine president launched a barrage of insults the previous day.

His outburst was in response to comments by Obama's aides that the US president planned to raise concerns about Duterte's war on crime that has claimed 3,000 lives in just over two months.

"You must be respectful. Do not just throw away questions and statements. Son of a whore, I will curse you in that forum," Duterte told reporters when asked about his message for Obama.

"We will be wallowing in the mud like pigs if you do that to me."

Obama initially responded by calling Duterte a "colourful guy", but then called off the meeting after the international media reported heavily on the issue.

The snub was a spectacular setback for relations between the United States and Philippines, which are longtime allies and are bound by a mutual defence treaty to help each other in times of war.

Yasay sought to characterise Wednesday's meeting as proof the alliance was strong enough to withstand such hiccups.

"It all springs from the fact that the relationship between the Philippines and the United States is firm, very strong," Yasay said.

Nevertheless, Duterte's office earlier today released a statement saying he would sit next to Obama at the gala dinner.

"The media from all over the world, including from the Philippines, are up in excitement as each await the event where the two leaders will possibly say something positive," the statement from the presidential palace said.

However Obama did not sit next to Duterte.

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