Philippine President Rodrigo Duterte and U.S. President Barack Obama met during the second day of the Rim Pacific Summit in Vientiane, Laos on Wednesday. The meeting, according to Duterte’s camp, was cordial and full of pleasantry.
This, despite the brewing animosity between the two chief executives over the harsh words Duterte allegedly issued against Obama the day the two were scheduled to meet on Monday.
Philippine Department of Foreign Affairs Secretary Perfecto Yasay confirmed Duterte’s informal meeting with Obama, in a holding room before Wednesday’s gala dinner hosted by the Laotian government, the Associated Press reported via Yahoo News.
“Obama had a brief discussion with Duterte before the ASEAN Gala Dinner in the leaders’ holding space. The exchange consisted of pleasantries between the two,” a White House official was quoted as saying by AP.
The informal meeting between the leaders happened following Obama’s cancellation of the scheduled meeting in reaction to Duterte’s colorful statements in reference to the U.S. president.
Duterte hit the U.S. and the United Nations for criticizing his anti-illegal drug campaign on grounds of human rights violations, which resulted in more than a thousand deaths. International human rights watchdogs also called out the Philippine government on the spate of extrajudicial killings in the country.
“They met at the holding room and they were the last persons to leave the holding room. I can’t say how long they met. It all springs from the fact the relationship between the Philippines and the United States is firm, very strong. The basis for this relationship is historical and both leaders realize this. And I’m very happy that it happened,” Yasay was quoted as saying by the Associated Press.
Before the meeting, Obama said in a press conference in Hangzhou, China on Monday, that if he would meet with Duterte, issues on the alleged human rights violation would be brought up. Obama also expected that the two would tackle such issue in a constructive way, the White House official statement reads.
“We recognize the significant burden that the drug trade plays just not just in the Philippines, but around the world. And fighting narco-trafficking is tough. But we will always assert the need to have due process and to engage in that fight against drugs in a way that’s consistent with basic international norms,” Obama said on Monday.