Obama ‘certainly not going to pull any punches’ on human rights talks with Duterte

  • White House Press Secretary Josh Earnest said that US President Barack Obama “is certainly not going to pull any punches” on human rights issues on his upcoming meeting with President Rodrigo Duterte
  • Duterte explained that Obama should first ‘understand’ the situation of the country before pushing through with the discussion of the issue
  • Duterte and Obama are expected to discuss issues regarding human rights

In an interview on Wednesday, White House Press Secretary Josh Earnest said that United States (US) President Barack Obama “is certainly not going to pull any punches” on human rights issues on his upcoming meeting with President Rodrigo Duterte on the sidelines of the Association of Southeast Asian Nations (Asean) Summit in Vientiane, Laos from September 6 to 8.

“I think the President is going to speak quite directly about our shared interests with the Philippines.,” Earnest said telling that Obama expects to discuss the shared interest of the US and the Philippines with Duterte. “Both countries benefit from effective cooperation on a variety of issues, including maritime security,” he added.

In a news briefing, Duterte said he is “open” to discuss any issue with Obama and that he can “raise any topic at all.”

“I’m ready to talk to him,” Duterte added.

However, when Duterte was asked if he’s okay with the discussion of human rights issues in the Philippines, Duterte explained that Obama should first “understand” the situation of the country before pushing through with the discussion of the issue.

“It depends to what degree because they must understand the problem first before we talk about human rights. I would insist, listen to me. This is what the problem is. Then, we can talk about the UN (United Nations). No problem,” Duterte said.

With the Philippines being a longtime ally of the United States in Asia, Earnest said that another characteristic of the countries’ alliances is “the President’s not just ability, but willingness, to speak bluntly— even on those issues where there might be some daylight between the United States and our allies.”

Aside from the human rights issues, the expected meeting between Obama and Duterte would also tackle matters regarding the West Philippine Sea (South China Sea) dispute.

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