"I don't take these comments personally" - Obama

He was responding to questions at the ASEAN summit in Laos

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US President Barack Obama| Image via @WhiteHouse on Twitter

US President Barack Obama spoke on Thursday in an effort to down-play comments made by Philippine counterpart Rodrigo Duterte earlier this week.

The American administration has been vocal in recent weeks about the policies of the new Philippine leader in his nationwide crackdown on the narcotics industry. 

Aljazeera has reported today that more than 2,500 people have been killed since July 1st, which is a death rate of roughly 38 per day. 

The Philippine President had urged his citizens to tackle drug dealers themselves and in a speech to the nation he said: "We will not stop until the last drug lord, the last financier and the last pusher have surrendered or put behind bars or below the ground."

Responding to criticism the Filipino suggested America keep their opinions to themselves, pointed out that the Philippines was a sovereign nation and concluded by saying "son of a whore" in his native tongue.

The remark led to Obama to cancel a planned meeting with Duterte at the ASEAN summit in Laos.

However, in an attempt to calm the situation, President Obama said "'As I said, when I was asked about this in China, I don't take these comments personally because it seems as if a phrase he's used repeatedly, including directed to the Pope and others. And so I think it seems to be just a habit, a way of speaking for him.''