Obama on Duterte: “I don’t take comments personally”

President Barack Obama says he doesn’t take Philippine President Rodrigo Duterte’s controversial swear words toward him and the United States personally.

“I don’t take these comments personally because it seems as if this is a phrase he’s used repeatedly, including directed at the Pope and others,” Obama said at a press conference at the end of the ASEAN Summit in Laos on Thursday. “And so, I think it seems to be just a habit, a way of speaking for him.”

Obama urged Duterte to fight crime and illegal drugs in the Philippines “the right way”, warning that using unlawful means would only spawn more problems.

He said the United States wants to partner with the Philippines in its war on drugs in a way that is consistent with international norms and rule of law.

Though the formal meeting between the two leaders did not push through after Duterte unleashed an anti-American tirade last Monday, Obama and Duterte did meet briefly in a holding room before the ASEAN gala.

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