Philippines President Rodrigo Duterte expressed some regret over his explicit comments about President Barack Obama in a statement Tuesday and said a meeting between the two leaders would be rescheduled for a later date.
The two leaders were supposed to meet Monday before Obama flew to Laos. However, their meeting was canceled after Duterte called Obama a “son of a whore” and warned Obama not to question him over extrajudicial killings. More than 2,000 suspected drug pushers and users have been killed since Duterte launched a war on drugs after taking office on June 30.
“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. Our primary intention is to chart an independent foreign policy while promoting closer ties with all nations, especially the US with which we had had a longstanding partnership,” Duterte said in a statement.
“We look forward to ironing out differences arising out of national priorities and perceptions, and working in mutually responsible ways for both countries,” he added.
Obama said Monday that he had heard Duterte’s original comments and characterized them as “colorful.” National Security Council spokesman Ned Price gave no explanation for the cancellation of the bilateral meeting at a regional summit in Laos.
Duterte made his foul-mouthed comments in response to a reporter’s question: "I am a president of a sovereign state and we have long ceased to be a colony. I do not have any master except the Filipino people, nobody but nobody. You must be respectful. Do not just throw questions. Putang ina I will swear at you in that forum," he said, using the Tagalog phrase for son of a b----.
Duterte has earlier cursed the pope and U.N. Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon.
The cancelled meeting was supposed to take place on the sidelines of the summit of the Association of Southeast Asian Nations.
"Who is he to confront me?" Duterte said, adding that the Philippines had not received an apology for misdeeds committed during the U.S. colonization of the Philippines.
He pointed to the killing of Muslim Moros more than a century ago during a U.S. pacification campaign in the southern Philippines, blaming the wounds of the past as "the reason why (the south) continues to boil" with separatist insurgencies.
Duterte also pointed to human rights problems in the United States.
Last week, Duterte said he was ready to defend his bloody crackdown on illegal drugs, which has sparked concern from the U.S. and other countries.
Duterte said he would demand that Obama allow him to first explain the context of his crackdown before engaging the U.S. president in a discussion of the deaths.
The Associated Press contributed to this report.