Philippines' Duterte 'deliberately' avoided Obama at summit

Story highlights

  • Duterte admits he stayed on the 'sidelines' to 'avoid' President Obama
  • Duterte 'did not want to create a scene'

(CNN)Philippines President Rodrigo Duterte has admitted he didn't attend sessions at a regional summit in Laos because he wanted to avoid an "awkward situation" with US President Barack Obama.

"I was there. I attended the meetings, actually," he told the Wallace Business Forum on Monday night in Manila.
"But you know, Obama was there, and because we had an exchange of words, I was just trying to avoid an awkward situation."
Prior to the summit, Duterte had cursed Obama as a "son of a bitch," prompting the White House to cancel planned bilateral talks between the two leaders.
At the time, Palace peace process adviser, Jesus Dureza, said the President "was not feeling well" which is why he skipped the meetings at the summit between the US and Association of Southeast Asian Nations (ASEAN) in September.
Foreign Affairs Secretary, Perfecto Yasay, took Duterte's place.
"I would not know if he would accept my gesture of a handshake," said Duterte. "And because I did not want to create a scene, an awkward situation, I just stayed on the sidelines."
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Obama had previously raised concerns about Duterte's controversial war on drugs and his human rights record.
"We absolutely expect (President Obama) will raise concerns about some of the recent statements from the president of the Philippines," White House Deputy National Security Adviser Ben Rhodes told media ahead of the Laos summit.