Pubdate: Tue, 06 Sep 2016
Source: Minneapolis Star-Tribune (MN)
Copyright: 2016 Star Tribune
Authors: Josh Lederman and Kathleen Hennessey, Associated Press


Duterte Used Epithet in Reference to President.

VIENTIANE, LAOS (AP) - President Obama called off a planned meeting 
Tuesday with new Philippine President Rodrigo Duterte, seeking 
distance from a U.S. ally's leader during a diplomatic tour that has 
put Obama in close quarters with a cast of contentious world figures.

It's unusual for one president to tell another what to say or not 
say, and much rarer to call the other a "son of a bitch." Duterte 
managed to do both just before flying to Laos for a regional summit, 
warning Obama not to challenge him over extrajudicial killings in the 

"Clearly, he's a colorful guy," Obama said. "What I've instructed my 
team to do is talk to their Philippine counterparts to find out is 
this in fact a time where we can have some constructive, productive 

Early Tuesday, National Security Council spokesman Ned Price said the 
meeting with Duterte was off.

Duterte has been under intense global scrutiny over Duterte the more 
than 2,000 suspected drug dealers and users killed since he took 
office. Obama had said he planned to raise the issue in his first 
meeting with Duterte, but the Philippine leader insisted he was only 
listening to his own country's people.

"You must be respectful," Duterte said of Obama. "Do not just throw 
questions." Using the Tagalog phrase for "son of a bitch," he said, 
"Putang ina I will swear at you in that forum." He made the comment 
to reporters in Manila.

Eager to show he wouldn't yield, Obama said he would "undoubtedly" 
still bring up human rights and due process concerns "if and when" 
the two do meet.

The bizarre rift with the leader of a U.S. treaty ally was the most 
glaring example of how Obama has frequently found himself bound to 
foreign countries and leaders whose ties to the U.S. are critical 
even if their values sharply diverge.

In Hangzhou this week, Obama's first stop in Asia, he heaped praise 
on Chinese President Xi Jinping for hosting the Group of 20 economic 
summit in his country, an authoritarian state long accused of human 
rights violations. His next stop was another one-party communist 
country with a dismal rights record: Laos, where mysterious 
disappearances have fueled concerns about a government crackdown.

And sitting down with Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan, Obama 
made no mention in public of the roughly 35,000 people Erdogan's 
government detained following the summer's failed coup in Turkey. 
Instead, he worked to reassure the NATO ally the U.S. would help 
bring to justice whoever was responsible for plotting the coup.

Obama also spent about 90 minutes Monday with Russian President 
Vladimir Putin, another leader whose fate seems intertwined with 
Obama's in all the wrong ways. On opposing sides of many global 
issues, the U.S. and Russia are nonetheless trying to broker a deal 
to address the Syrian civil war and perhaps even partner militarily there.

"President Putin's less colorful," Obama said, comparing him with 
Duterte. "But typically the tone of our meetings is candid, blunt, 

A public break from the Philippines would put Obama in a tough 
position, given the Southeast Asian nation's status as a longtime 
U.S. ally. The Obama administration has sought to compartmentalize by 
arguing that military and other cooperation won't be jeopardized even 
if it detests the current Philippine leader's tone.
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MAP posted-by: Jay Bergstrom