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Obama Cancels Meeting With Philippines’ Duterte After Insult

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U.S. President Barack Obama canceled what would have been his first meeting with Filipino President Rodrigo Duterte, a White House spokesman said on Tuesday, after Duterte described Obama as a “son of a bitch”. Duterte, a plain-spoken populist known for his colorful remarks and his campaign against illegal drugs in which thousands of people have died, used the term in front of reporters on Monday, a day ahead of the planned meeting in Laos, where Southeast Asian leaders are meeting for annual summits.

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Obama learned about the insult as he emerged from the Group of 20 summit in Hangzhou, China. At a news conference, he said he had told his aides to speak with Philippine officials “to find out is this, in fact, a time where we can have some constructive, productive conversations,” signaling clearly that the meeting would not proceed as planned.

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“I always want to make sure that if I’m having a meeting, that it’s actually productive and we’re getting something done,” Obama told reporters. Instead, Obama now plans to meet South Korean President Park Geun-hye on Tuesday, said Ned Price, spokesman for the White House National Security Council – a meeting where the response to North Korea’s latest missile tests is expected to be on the agenda.

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