Duterte says meeting cancellation 'mutually agreed upon'
MANILA (1st UPDATE) - President Rodrigo Duterte on Tuesday expressed regret over how his expletive-laced remarks led to the cancellation of his planned meeting with U.S. President Barack Obama.
"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 on the US President," he said in a statement read by Presidential Spokesperson Ernest Abella.
The White House announced Tuesday that the two leaders' bilateral meeting on the sidelines of the ASEAN Summit has been scrapped after Duterte threatened to curse at Obama if the American leader voices concern over the Philippines' brutal campaign against drugs
The firebrand said he hopes to resolve his spat with Washington, a long-time ally of the Philippines.
"Our primary intention is to chart an independent foreign policy while promoting closer ties with all nations, especially the US with which we have a had long standing partnership," he said.
"We look forward to ironing out differences arising out of national priorities and perceptions, and working in mutually responsible ways for both countries."
Duterte clarified that he gave his consent to the cancellation of what would have been his first meeting with the US leader.
"The meeting between the United States and the Philippines has been mutually agreed upon to be moved to a later date," he said.
But Presidential peace adviser Jesus Dureza admitted that the meeting has yet to be rescheduled.
"It's being moved to a later date, so let's wait when that date will be announced," he said.
The perceived strain on the US-Philippine relations comes as Manila seeks to reinforce a tribunal ruling that invalidated the historic claims of China to the resource-rich South China Sea.
-- With reports from Willard Cheng, Jamaine Punzalan and Dharel Placido, ABS-CBN News