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Philippines President Says He Regrets "Son Of A Whore" Remark After Obama Cancels Meeting

The controversial Filipino leader expressed regret for calling US President Barack Obama a "son of a whore."

Last updated on September 6, 2016, at 1:06 a.m. ET

Posted on September 5, 2016, at 3:32 p.m. ET

Afp / AFP / Getty Images

The Philippines' controversial new president, Rodrigo Duterte, said he regretted calling US President Barack Obama a "son of a whore" while warning him not to concern himself with Filipino human rights in a press conference on Monday.

Duterte said in a statement on Tuesday that his "strong comments... elicited concern and distress, we also regret it came across as a personal attack on the US president," the Associated Press reported.

The White House canceled a meeting between the two leaders after Duterte made the remark.

At a press conference before he was set to fly to Laos to meet Obama and other leaders at the ASEAN conference, the Filipino leader was asked how he might react if the US president should question him over his severe anti-drug war, which has killed some 2,400 people since he assumed office in June.

"Who does he think he is? I am no American puppet. I am the president of a sovereign country and I am not answerable to anyone except the Filipino people," he told reporters.

"You must be respectful," Duterte said, referring to Obama. "Do not just throw away questions and statements. Son of a whore, I will curse you in that forum."

"We will be wallowing in the mud like pigs if you do that to me," he said.

Some outlets translated Duterte's comments into English as "son of a bitch."

Saul Loeb / AFP / Getty Images

"I just heard about some of this," Obama subsequently told reporters at a press conference in China, referring to Duterte's comments. "But I have seen some of those colorful statements in the past, and so, clearly, he’s a colorful guy."

Obama initially told reporters he had instructed aides to assess whether it was still worth trying to meet with Duterte on the sidelines of the ASEAN conference.

"I always want to make sure that if I'm having a meeting that it's actually productive and we're getting something done," he said.

However, later on Monday, the White House announced the bilateral meeting was off and Obama would instead meet with South Korea's president.

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Philippine police SWAT personnel in Manila on Monday.
Ted Aljibe / AFP / Getty Images

Philippine police SWAT personnel in Manila on Monday.

The tough-talking Duterte was elected in May, promising to crack down on drug dealers in the country by any means necessary.

In June he said he would reward any citizen with a gun if they aided his war on crime by killing drug dealers who resist arrest.

“Please feel free to call us, the police, or do it yourself if you have the gun — you have my support,” he said. “Shoot him and I’ll give you a medal.”

He has also threatened to withdraw from the UN, after human rights experts said his order for police and the public to kill suspected drug traffickers was tantamount to "incitement to violence and killing, a crime under international law."

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