President Obama cancelled a meeting with new Philippine President Rodrigo Duterte, after being called a "son of a bitch" by the leader while he spoke to reporters.
In language highly unusual for any world leader — let alone from a close ally like the Philippines — Duterte told reporters in Manila that Obama should not use their planned meeting to critique the Philippine's war on drugs.
"You must be respectful," Duterte said of Obama, according to the AP. "Do not just throw questions." Using the Tagalog phrase for "son of a bitch," he said, "Putang ina, I will swear at you in that forum."
The comment came after a reporter asked him how he’ll explain the extrajudicial killings in the Philippines, where more than 2,000 suspected drug sellers and users have been killed since the end of June.
Obama, who is in Asia for meetings with world leaders, was scheduled to meet Duterte on Tuesday afternoon. But when asked for reaction to the comments before he departed China for Laos, Obama made no secret about his qualms about the extrajudicial killings.
"Fighting narco-trafficking is tough," Obama told reporters on Monday. "But we will always assert the need to have due process and to engage in that fight against drugs in a way that's consistent with basic international norms.
"And so, undoubtedly, if and when we have a meeting, that this is something that's going to be brought up, and my expectation, my hope is, is that it could be dealt with constructively."
Instead of meeting with Duterte on Tuesday afternoon, Obama is now scheduled to meet with President Park of South Korea.
Obama was asked at a press conference in China at the end of the G20 summit what he thought about Duterte's comments.
"Clearly, he’s a colorful guy," Obama said.
"And 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."
Obama stressed that the Filipino people were "some of our closest friends and allies, and the Philippines is a treaty ally of ours."
But he said he wanted to make sure "that if I'm having a meeting that it's actually productive and we're getting something done."