President Barack Obama canceled a meeting with President Rodrigo Duterte of the Philippines scheduled for today in Laos, after the Philippine president directed an expletive at Obama on Monday.
Duterte warned Obama not to ask him about extrajudicial killings related to his crackdown on drug dealers, a campaign vow that helped sweep him to victory in the presidential election in May.
"I am a president of a sovereign state, and we have long ceased to be a colony," Duterte told reporters before he left his country for Laos, where he and Obama will attend the meeting of the Association of Southeast Asian Nations.
"I do not have any master except the Filipino people, nobody but nobody," he said in remarks published by the Associated Press. Apparently addressing Obama, he added: "You must be respectful. Do not just throw questions." Then, using a curse in Tagalog that can be translated as "son of a b----," he added: "I will swear at you in that forum."
Obama, who was in China for a Group of 20 meeting, departed Monday for Laos, becoming the first U.S. president to visit the nation. He will take part in the East Asia Summit and speak at a forum with young people.
Obama had planned to meet Duterte in Laos, but the White House said early today that the meeting had been canceled.
Last month, the Philippines' top police official, Ronald dela Rosa, told a Senate hearing that killings by the police and vigilantes in the war on drugs had soared to nearly 1,800 in the seven weeks since Duterte took office.
Duterte's public image has been characterized by bouts of coarse language. He cursed Pope Francis and his entourage for causing huge traffic jams in Manila during a visit in 2015.