- US President Barack Obama said he did not take Philippine President Rodrigo Duterte’s comments personally
- The two shook hands and exchanged pleasantries before the gala dinner of the ASEAN summit
- Obama also expressed support for the fight against drugs in the Philippines
United States President Barack Obama shrugged off an expletive comment by Philippine President Rodrigo Duterte; saying he didn’t take such comments personally.
Obama revealed that he was able to exchange pleasantries with Duterte right before the gala dinner of the Association of Southeast Asian Nations (ASEAN) Summit held in Vientiane, Laos.
”I did shake hands with President Duterte last night. It was not a long interaction, and what I indicated to him is that my team should be meeting with his and determine how we can move forward on a whole range of issues,” Obama said, as previously quoted by ABS-CBN News.
Obama also noted that the cursing was a habit of Duterte, who had also made similar remarks about the Pope.
“As I said, when I was asked about this in China, I don’t take these comments personally because it seems as if a phrase he’s used repeatedly, including directed to the Pope and others. And so I think it seems to be just a habit, a way of speaking for him,” he said.
Duterte had earlier already expressed his regret over the comments.
An earlier meeting between the two had been cancelled due to the gaffe. However, both the Philippines and the United States have agreed to hold bilateral talks at a later time.
Meanwhile, Obama also expressed his support to the Philippine crackdown on drugs, but noted that this should be done “the right way” to avoid hurting the innocent.
“We want to partner with the Philippines on this particular issue of ‘narco-traffickers’, which is a serious problem in the Philippines. It’s a serious problem in United States and around the world. On that narrow issue, we do want to make sure that the partnership we have is consistent with international norms and rule of law. So we’re not going to back off our position that if we’re working with a country, whether it’s on anti-terrorism, whether it’s on going after drug traffickers, as despicable as these networks may be, as much as damage as they do, it is important from our perspective to make sure that we do it the right way. Because the consequences when you do it the wrong way, innocent people get hurt. And you have a whole bunch of unintended consequences that don’t solve the problem,” he said.