Presidents Duterte, Obama shake hands, chat after cancelled meet

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By Azer N. Parrocha

MANILA, Sept. 8 (PNA) — In what seemed like an effort to patch things up, Philippine President Rodrigo Duterte and US President Barack Obama shook hands and shared a good conversation before the gala dinner at the ASEAN Summit in Laos, a senator said Thursday.

Senator Alan Peter Cayetano, who accompanied Duterte in his trip, said that this was how the two presidents met informally in a holding room before attending a gala dinner at the ASEAN Summit.

“You could see that there is an effort from both sides to patch things up,” Cayetano, Chair of the Senate Committee on Foreign Relations, said.

The previous day, Duterte mentioned in a press conference that the US President should not question his way of dealing with the country’s illegal drug problem. This led the White House to cancel the scheduled meet between the two leaders.

Cayetano stressed the importance of maintaining strong diplomatic ties between the Philippines and the US despite their earlier rift.

“The Philippines and the US have a longstanding partnership [and] relationship. There will be bumps along the way… But it won’t hurt to have a popular President on our side,” the senator said.

Earlier this week, Cayetano said that he had written an open letter to Obama appealing for the US government to help the Philippine government pursue an independent foreign policy.

He also appealed to Obama not to misjudge Duterte for the way he speaks as he has often been discredited by his critics.

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