U.S. apologises for flying Philippine flag upside down

WASHINGTON Mon Sep 27, 2010 8:02am IST

U.S. President Barack Obama shakes hands with Philippines President Benigno Aquino III during a group picture at a meeting between President Obama and ASEAN leaders in New York, September 24, 2010.  REUTERS/Jason Reed

U.S. President Barack Obama shakes hands with Philippines President Benigno Aquino III during a group picture at a meeting between President Obama and ASEAN leaders in New York, September 24, 2010.

Credit: Reuters/Jason Reed

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WASHINGTON (Reuters) - The United States government apologized for displaying the Philippine flag upside down at an event in New York attended by President Barack Obama on Friday, calling it an "honest mistake."

The red-white-and-blue Philippine flag adorned with yellow stars was hanging upside down, with red on top instead of blue, when Obama met his counterpart Philippine President Benigno Aquino during a gathering of the Association of Southeast Asian Nations (ASEAN).

In the Philippines, an inverted flag signals the nation is in a state of war.

"This was an honest mistake," said Rebecca Thompson, U.S. embassy spokesperson in Manila. "The U.S. treasures its close relationship and close partnership with the Philippines."

Thompson did not say who made the mistake or how it happened.

(Writing by Greg McCune; Editing by Jerry Norton)

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