UNITED NATIONS: Rodrigo Duterte, who has railed against the United Nations for criticizing his government, has declined a request to meet UN Secretary General Ban Ki-moon, officials said Thursday (Friday in Manila).
UN spokesman Stephane Dujarric said that “contacts were had to try to set up a time” for a meeting on the sidelines of the Asean meeting in Vientiane, Laos next week, but that “no time could be agreed upon.”
A Department of Foreign Affairs (DFA) spokesman in Manila said that 11 heads of state had requested meetings with Duterte during the Association of Southeast Asian Nations (Asean) meeting, and that he had said yes to nine of them.
“Please understand that he cannot accept them all and no one should impute any negatives on those he could not accommodate,” said DFA Assistant Secretary Charles Jose in Manila.
Duterte’s spokesman Ernesto Abella said the September 6-8 Asean meeting in Vientiane was “extraordinarily full” and that “a number of possible meet-ups have to be presently foregone.”
Duterte has launched several tirades against the world body after UN special rapporteurs criticized his crackdown on crime, even threatening to pull out of the United Nations, a threat he later withdrew.
Presidential spokesperson Ernesto Abella also dismissed speculations that President Duterte declined to meet
Ban, saying: “There was nothing personal and it should not be given negative connotation.”
“It was a matter of scheduling,” Abella told reporters in a news conference Friday at the Royal Mandaya Hotel in Davao City.
Nearly 2,000 people have been killed since Duterte was sworn into office on June 30 and immediately launched his war on crime, according to the national police chief.
Duterte has insisted most of the 756 people confirmed killed by police were drug suspects who resisted arrest, while the others died due to gang members waging warfare against each other.
However rights groups, some lawmakers and others have said security forces were engaging in unprecedented extrajudicial killings.
In Malacañang, Foreign Affairs Assistant Secretary Hellen de la Vega declined to disclose which leaders would meet the President in Laos.
But it was earlier reported that Duterte and US President Barack Obama would have a one-on-one meeting to discuss the issue of human rights, among others.
“I think the President is prepared. That’s why his first statement is to ask President Obama to listen to him. So he can discuss and explain to him the problem that we face as far as the drug problem is concerned,” de la Vega said.
There was also no information yet on whether Duterte would be meeting Chinese Premier Li Keqiang on the summit’s sidelines, she said.
During the summit, the Philippines will formally accept the chairmanship of Asean for 2017.
“Our goals and objectives for this [Vientiane] Summit will be to accept the chairmanship and strengthen the relations with the other Asean member-states and dialogue partners, and to reiterate the support for the implementation of the Asean Community Vision 2025,” de la Vega said.