Obama Cancels Duterte Showdown Over 'whore' Slur

Obama cancels Duterte showdown over 'whore' slur

VIENTIANE, (APP - UrduPoint / Pakistan Point News -6th Sept,2016) - US President Barack Obama cancelled a meeting at a regional summit on Tuesday with foul-mouthed Philippine leader Rodrigo Duterte after being branded a "son of a whore".

The pair had been due to meet in the Lao capital of Vientiane at a gathering organised by the Association of Southeast Asian Nations, an annual event meant to foster harmony but which often highlights regional rows.

This year's edition was launched with a spectacular fallout between the United States and the Philippines, longtime allies that have seen relations plunge under a barrage of insults from Duterte since he came to office on June 30.

Obama's aides announced that his planned meeting with Duterte on Tuesday afternoon had been called off following a fresh tirade by the Filipino leader the previous day. Shortly before flying to Vientiane, Duterte warned he would not be lectured by Obama over a war on drug crime in the Philippines that has claimed nearly 3,000 lives in just over two months -- an average of 44 a day.

"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. Duterte, who has quickly earned a global reputation for his acid tongue, then used typically colourful language to describe their planned meeting if rights issues came up.

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

Duterte had previously also branded the US ambassador to Manila a "gay son of a whore", and sought to taint the reputation of Pope Francis's mother in similar fashion.

Duterte was elected to office in a landslide this year after pledging to kill 100,000 people in an unprecedented war on crime. When faced with criticism from the United Nations over an apparent spate of extrajudicial killings in his crime war, he responded with what has become familiar abuse.

"Maybe we'll just have to decide to separate from the United Nations. If you are that disrespectful, son of a whore, then I will just leave you," he said last month. Following the Obama backlash on Tuesday, Duterte struck a rare moment of contrition, albeit qualified.

"While the immediate cause was my strong comments to certain press questions that elicited concern and distress, we also regret that it came across as a personal attack on the US President," he said in a statement.

The United States also sought to ensure there was no enduring fall-out with one of its most important allies in Asia and former colony. Top Obama aide Ben Rhodes told reporters in Laos on Tuesday evening the broader relationship with the Philippines "has been and remains rock-solid".

He also said Obama would likely hold an informal discussion with Duterte in Laos on Wednesday or Thursday, though formal talks remained off the table.