Duterte apologizes to Myanmar's Suu Kyi over 'genocide' remark

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Metro Manila (CNN Philippines, April 13) — President Rodrigo Duterte apologized to Myanmar's leader for calling the Rohingya crisis a "genocide."

Duterte addressed Myanmar State Counsellor Aung San Suu Kyi in a press briefing early Friday, upon his return from official visits to China and Hong Kong.

"I will apologize to you but if you have noticed my statement was almost a satire," Duterte said.

"I was just adapting their findings that there are a lot of violations in your country," he said of the remarks he made in an April 5 speech.

He explained that all he wanted to say was European countries criticize Myanmar for its supposed human rights violations, while they do not offer the Rohingya refugees a home in their country.

Presidential Chief Presidential Legal Counsel Salvador Panelo in a statement said Duterte is sorry for his remarks "which would appear to be an intrusion into the eternal affairs of Myanmar."

Duterte said he is willing to accept the displaced Rohingya, a stateless Muslim minority in Myanmar's Rakhine State.

More than 680,000 of them have fled Myanmar for Bangladesh since August 2017, an exodus which the United Nations called the "world's fastest-growing refugee crisis."

Myanmar's military has repeatedly denied claims it was deliberately attacking the Rohingya civilians, insisting instead that it was combating a terrorist insurgency in the province.

Suu Kyi, meanwhile, has drawn international criticism for her perceived silence on the army's supposed crackdown on the Rohingya.

READ: Myanmar's Aung San Suu Kyi stripped of human rights award  

Duterte in a January speech recalled telling Suu Kyi, "Do not mind the human rights (groups). They're just a noisy bunch actually.'"