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Obama becomes first U.S. president to visit Laos

Monday, September 05, 2016 - 00:52

U.S. President Barack Obama becomes the first U.S. president to visit Laos as he prepares for the start of the Association of Southeast Asian Nations (ASEAN) and East Asia Summits. Rough Cut (no reporter narration).

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ROUGH CUT (NO REPORTER NARRATION) STORY: As he steps off the plane at Wattay International Airport, President Barack Obama becomes the first U.S. President to visit Laos on Monday (September 5). Obama said on Monday he was considering whether or not to meet his Filipino counterpart, Rodrigo Duterte, as planned, amid alarm over the latter's campaign against illegal drugs in which thousands of people have died. Earlier in the day, the plain-talking Duterte had told reporters he would swear at Obama if he tried to question him about extrajudicial killings, using a Filipino phrase for "son of a bitch" to describe the U.S. president. Speaking at a G20 meeting in China, and before traveling to Laos for a summit where he was due to hold talks with Duterte, Obama said he had asked his team to find out if "constructive, productive conversations" were possible. "Obviously the Filipino people are some of our closest friends and allies and the Philippines is a treaty ally of ours. But I always want to make sure that if I'm having a meeting that it's actually productive and we're getting something done," he told reporters in the eastern Chinese city of Hangzhou. "I'm going to make an assessment ... What is certainly true is that the issues of how we approach fighting crime and drug trafficking is a serious one for all of us, and we've got to do it the right way." Earlier, Duterte made it clear he would not be lectured on human rights by Obama, adding that "plenty will be killed" before the end of a crackdown that has led to the deaths of about 2,400 people since he became president two months ago. The frank public exchanges threaten to overshadow the Association of Southeast Asian Nations (ASEAN) and East Asia Summits in Laos from Tuesday to Thursday. There the 10-member ASEAN will meet leaders of other regional powers: China, Japan, South Korea, Australia, India, Russia and the United States. The Philippines has been a key U.S. ally in its dispute with China over the South China Sea, where Washington blames Beijing for militarizing a vital global trade route and jeopardizing freedom of movement at sea and in the air.

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Obama becomes first U.S. president to visit Laos

Monday, September 05, 2016 - 00:52