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President denies expletive at Obama

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President Duterte told US President Barack Obama he never called him a “son of a bitch,” he said yesterday, but he maintained a defiant stance on his war on drugs, saying United Nations chief Ban Ki-moon was a fool for bringing up human rights.

Obama canceled a planned meeting with Duterte at this week’s Association of Southeast Asian Nations summit in Laos after the Philippine leader’s alleged insult in his native Tagalog, but the two met briefly later as they waited to take their seats at a banquet.

While on a visit to the Indonesian capital yesterday, Duterte told a group of Filipinos that the slur was not directed at the US President and that he had told him so.

“I was ready (for Obama). I was waiting for Obama to respond. Lawyer to lawyer, we are both lawyers anyway. I said I never made the statement. Check it out.”

“I said that, but not in relation to Obama,” he said. “I’m not fighting with America.”

Obama and Duterte shook hands and had a brief chat on Wednesday, officials said, easing the standoff. Duterte had his outburst on Monday when he was defending his war on drugs that has killed at least 2,400 Filipinos.

Duterte said he thought Ban a fool for bringing up the issue of human rights violations weeks before the summit in Laos.

“Even Ban Ki-moon weighed in,” Duterte said. “Also gave a statement before, several weeks ago, about the human rights violation. Sabi ko, isa ka pang tarantado.” (Reuters)

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