Duterte ‘regrets’ lashing out at Obama

PRESIDENT Rodrigo Duterte on Tuesday expressed regret for issuing “strong” remarks against United States President Barack Obama, which had been perceived as a “personal attack” against the latter.

In a statement, Duterte said that even after Obama cancelled their scheduled meeting, he remained optimistic that they would be able to “iron out” differences between them.

“While the immediate cause was my strong comments to certain press questions that elicited concern and distress. [I] also regret it came across as a personal attack on the US President,” Duterte said.

“We look forward to ironing out difference arising out of national priorities and perceptions, and working in mutually responsible ways for both countries,” he added.

The President was referring to his statement on Monday that he would not allow Obama to “lecture” him on the spate of killings of drug personalities in the country, which caused alarm to human rights’ advocates and international community.

“Nobody has the right to lecture on me. God, do not do it. You want the right word? We will get into a terrible mess if you do that to me. I do not Accept that proposition that anybody is superior than me. We’re supposed to be equal there,” Duterte on Monday said before going to Laos.

Following Duterte’s statement, Obama initially mulled whether he would meet the former or not. He then decided to cancel the meeting on early Tuesday.

Duterte, however, said that he and Obama agreed to move their supposed meeting “to a later date.”

“The meeting between the United States and the Philippines has been mutually agreed upon to be moved to a later date,” he said. “Our primary intention is to chart an independent foreign policy while promoting closer ties with all nations, especially the US with which we have had a long standing partnership.”

In a chance interview in Vientiane, Laos, Presidential Adviser on Peace Process Jesus Dureza said “there is nothing specific yet” on the next meeting between Obama and Duterte.

Communications Secretary Martin Andanar, who was with Dureza, had thanked Obama for the United States’ firm support for the Philippines despite the misunderstanding.

“During the G-20 [meeting in China], President Obama emphasized the importance for China to abide by its obligations under international law and underscore the United States’ unwavering commitment for the security allies,” Andanar said.

“Duterte stressed that in securing and preserving the rights liberties of our people, it is imperative that the fight against illegal drugs, terrorists, crimes, and poverty must be one in order to preserve the principle and values, upon which our democratic life is anchored,” he added. (Sunnex)
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