The move followed a warning from Duterte to the US president to keep off the subject of extrajudicial killings in his country’s brutal drug war when they were due to meet on Tuesday at a regional summit in Laos. Duterte told a press conference that Obama “must be respectful”.
The firebrand president was answering a reporter’s question about how he intended to explain the extrajudicial killings to Obama, before boarding a plane to Laos for the Association of South-east Asian Nations summit.
“You must be respectful. Do not just throw away questions and statements. Son of a whore, I will curse you in that forum,” Duterte was quoted by as saying by Agence-France Presse. “We will be wallowing in the mud like pigs if you do that to me.”
When his comments reached the Obama camp, the US president initially said he was asking his staff to find out whether holding the meeting as scheduled would be useful.
But hours later the decision was made to cancel, a White House spokesman said. Instead, Obama will meet with South Korean president Park Geun-hye.