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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.
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.
“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.