US PRESIDENT Barack Obama reportedly snubbed President Rodrigo Duterte after the East Asia Summit in Vientiane, Laos on Thursday, after the Philippine leader brought up the history of the US occupation of the Philippines.
Citing unnamed sources, ABS-CBN News and GMA News reported that Obama, before leaving the meeting room, went around to shake hands with leaders of the member-nations of the East Asia group, except for Duterte.
The incident happened after Duterte dropped his prepared speech at the East Asia Summit and instead talked about human rights violations committed by American colonizers against the Moros in Mindanao a century ago.
However, Foreign Secretary Perfecto Yasay Jr. was quoted as saying that “there was no time for Obama to shake Duterte’s hands as the Philippine President had to leave the conference for his bilateral talks with Russia.”
“When he got back to the meeting for the closing rites, Obama had already left,” he told reporters in Vientiane.
Yasay declined to elaborate on what Duterte said at the East Asia meeting but the President, during a speech before the Filipino community in Jakarta, Indonesia on Friday, confirmed that he did talk about the bloody US pacification campaign against the Moros.
Duterte and Obama were due to hold talks on Tuesday but the White House canceled the meeting after Duterte’s expletive-laden tirade against the US and Obama on Monday before leaving for Vientiane.
Duterte’s aides later said the two met briefly and shook hands in a holding room prior to the gala dinner of the Association of Southeast Asian Nations Wednesday night.
Obama on Thursday confirmed in a news conference before leaving Laos that he and Duterte shook hands, but said it “was not a long interaction.”
US officials had said Duterte’s outbursts won’t affect relations between Manila and Washington, which a US government spokesman described as “rock solid.”