US President Barack Obama has cancelled a meeting with the President of the Philippines, after he launched foul-mouthed tirades at the leader and US officials.
The country’s newly-elected and frequently outspoken President Rodrigo Duterte made homophobic comments about US Ambassador Philip Goldberg using crude slurs last month.
Speaking about the US, he said that although Secretary of State John Kerry is “okay… I had an argument with their gay ambassador, the son of a whore. He pissed me off”.
Before a meeting with President Obama this month he directed another jibe at the leader.
Asked how he would respond if the US leader brought up extrajudicial killings, Duterte said: “You must be respectful. Do not just throw away questions and statements. Son of a whore, I will curse you in that forum. We will be wallowing in the mud like pigs if you do that to me.”
Responding to the jibe, President Obama responded diplomatically: “What I’ve instructed my team to do is to talk to their Philippine counterparts to find out, is this in fact a time where we can have some constructive, productive conversations.
“Obviously the Filipino people are some of our closest friends and allies and the Philippines is a treaty ally of ours.
“But I always want to make sure that if I’m having a meeting that it’s actually productive and we’re getting something done.”
President Obama’s office has now cancelled the planned meeting between the pair at the Association of Southeast Asian Nations summit.
A statement released via Duterte’s office said he “regrets” the remarks.
It says; “While the immediate cause was my strong comments to certain press questions that elicited concern and distress, we also regret that it came across as a personal attack on the US president.”
The Philippines is one of the most LGBT-friendly in Asia, with a 2014 poll finding that 73 percent of Filipinos believe homosexuality should be accepted.
However, there is little in the way of progress in the country.
There are no national LGBT anti-discrimination laws, no recognition of same-sex marriage, and the Family Code of the Philippines defines marriage as “a special contract of permanent union between a man and a woman”.