Son of a whore : Duterte express regret over “controversial” comment

President Rodrigo Duterte of the Philippines has expressed regret for calling Barack Obama a “son of a whore” – a remark that led to the US leader cancelling their meeting during a regional summit in Laos.

In a statement read by his spokesman, Duterte said the remark was not intended as a personal insult. “While the immediate cause was my strong comments to certain press questions that elicited concern and distress, we also regret that it came across as a personal attack on the US president,” Ernesto Abella quoted Duterte as saying.

He added that a meeting with the US had been “mutually agreed upon to be moved to a later date”.

Duterte called Obama a “son of a whore” following weeks of criticism from the US against extrajudicial killings in the Philippines’ bloody drug war.

“Son of a whore, I will curse you in that forum,” Duterte was quoted as saying.

As Duterte arrived in the Laos capital, Vientiane, for the Association of South-east Asian Nations summit on Monday evening, he was already rowing back on the remark, saying he did not want a fight.

“I do not want to quarrel with him. He’s the most powerful president of any country on the planet,” Duterte said.

Instead, he said, he was angry at members of the US state department who “keep on mouthing” statements about human rights.

Elected in May on an anti-crime platform, Duterte has lashed out at the US and others for criticising his war on drugs, in which more than 2,400 people have been killed by police and vigilante militia.

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