US President Barack Obama has canceled a planned meeting with his Filipino counterpart Rodrigo Duterte after the latter insulted him with vulgar and undiplomatic language.
The two leaders were scheduled to meet on the sidelines of the 28th Association of Southeast Asian Nations (ASEAN) Summit on Tuesday afternoon in Vientiane, the capital of Laos.
White House officials previously said Obama would confront Duterte about his country’s handling of drug dealers, including alleged extrajudicial killings.
Hours later, a US spokesman announced the cancellation of the meeting after Duterte lashed out at Obama for wading into his campaign against drugs.
“President Obama will not be holding a bilateral meeting with President Duterte of the Philippines this afternoon,” US National Security Council spokesman Ned Price said in Washington, DC.
Price said the US president, who is in Laos for meetings with South Asian leaders, instead will meet with South Korean President Park Geun-hye.
Hours earlier, the outspoken Filipino leader harshly criticized the US president and said, “I am no American puppet. I am the president of a sovereign country and I am not answerable to anyone except the Filipino people.”
“You must be respectful. Do not just throw away questions and statements. Son of a b***, I will curse you in that forum,” Duterte told reporters when asked about his message for Obama whose country is a former colonial ruler of the Philippines.
Duterte said that he would not be lectured by the US leader on human rights, and blamed Washington for causing unrest in the southern Philippines.
Obama learned about the insult while emerging from the G20 summit in Hangzhou, China.
Duterte expresses regret
Later on Tuesday, Duterte issued a statement, expressing regret for his undiplomatic remarks.
“While the immediate cause was my strong comments to certain press questions that elicited concern and distress we also regret it came across as a personal attack on the US president,” the statement said.
Duterte’s statement said Philippine and American officials would hold face-to-face talks “at a later date”.
“Our primary intention to chart an independent foreign policy while promoting closer ties with all nations especially the US with which we have a long standing partnership,” the statement said.
“We look forward to ironing out differences arising out of national priority perceptions and working in mutually responsible ways for both countries,” it added.