Philippine President Rodrigo Duterte and US President Barack Obama make a toast during the gala dinner of ASEAN leaders and its Dialogue Partners in 28th and 29th ASEAN Summits at Vientiane, Laos. Obama sat six seats to the right of Duterte / photo: philstar.com/AP Photo/Bullit Marquez

Duterte and Obama finally met in Vientiane

VIENTIANE, Laos — US President Barack Obama and President Rodrigo Duterte finally met informally in a holding room on Wednesday (7 september) prior of a gala dinner at a regional summit.

Philippine Foreign Affairs Secretary, Pefecto Yasay affirmed the leaders had met shortly after the event.

“They met at the holding room and they were the last persons to leave the room. I can’t say how long they met. It all springs from the fact the relationship between the Philippines and the United States is firm, very strong. The basis for this relationship is historical and both leaders realize this. And I’m very happy that it happened,” said Mr Yasay who traveled with President Duterte.

In a short statement, the White House only said that “Obama had a brief discussion with President Duterte before the ASEAN Gala Dinner in the leaders’ hold space.”

The two presidents are in the Laotian capital along with other regional leaders for the ASEAN Summit. All of them made their way through the holding room to head to the banquet hall.

Last Tuesday, Duterte had expressed regret over his inappropriate remarks, but the damage has been done.

Philippine Department of Foreign Affairs spokesman Charles Jose also confirmed Obama and Duterte met in the holding room. He said it was a mutually agreed meeting, although he didn’t have details of what was discussed.

Obama and Duterte entered the dinner venue separately after the other Asean State Leaders, and they were seated far apart and did not interact with each other during the dinner that lasted an hour and 20 minutes.

However philstar.com reported they made a toast during the gala dinner, though the occasion was not clearly shown on the philstar’s AP photo.