HANGZHOU, China The United States is assessing whether now is the time to have "constructive, productive conversations" with Philippine President Rodrigo Duterte, U.S. President Barack Obama said on Monday.
Duterte had said earlier in the day that "plenty will be killed" before the end of his campaign against illegal drugs that has led to the death of about 2,400 people since he became president two months ago.
"What I've instructed my team to do is to talk to their Philippine counterparts to find out, is this in fact a time where we can have some constructive, productive conversations," Obama said at a news conference at the end of a G20 summit in the eastern Chinese city of Hangzhou.
"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 said.
Obama noted that, while the fight against drugs was tough, the United States would always assert the need for due process and to carry out the campaign in a way that is consistent with basic international norms.
"And so, undoubtedly, if and when we have a meeting, this is something that's going to be brought up, and my expectation, my hope is that it could be dealt with constructively.
"But I'll have my team discuss this ... I want to make sure that the setting is right and the timing is right for us to have the best conversation possible."
(Reporting by Roberta Rampton and Michael Martina; Writing by Jason Subler; Editing by Mike Collett-White)