Manila, Sept 7: The Philippines on Wednesday denied the existence of any crisis with the US, after Washington cancelled a bilateral meeting following Philippine President Rodrigo Duterte’s insults to his US counterpart Barack Obama. The meeting was scheduled for Tuesday in Laos, which was hosting the Association of Southeast Asian tions, or Asean, summit and where the Philippines was holding parallel meetings with other member countries, including the US, Efe news reported. The meeting was suspended after Duterte called Obama “son of a b....” in a press conference, where he rejected other countries’ criticism of his violent anti-drug campaign, which has resulted in about 2,500 deaths in two months.
Since the cancellation, Manila has tried to downplay the situation and have been trying to normalise relations with its long-standing ally. Phillipine Presidential spokesperson Ernesto Abella said the meeting between the two Presidents will be held in due course of time, and that the two leaders will see each other at the Asean dinner gala late on Wednesday.
Manila hopes that Duterte and Obama can meet informally before the meeting in Vientiane ends. Duterte regretted insulting Obama on Tuesday in a statement, and expressed his deep regard for the US President.
In recent years, military cooperation has strengthened between the US and the Philippines, which is involved in a territorial dispute with Beijing over the sovereignty of several islands in the South Chi Sea. The cancellation of the meeting, supposed to be the first interaction between the two leaders, was a major setback for bilateral diplomatic relations. Although the two countries have been allies, their ties have deteriorated since Duterte won the presidential elections in May. (IANS)