MANILA, Philippines — United States President Donald Trump will visit Manila for the celebration of the 50th anniversary of the Association of Southeast Asian Nations on Nov. 12 and the ASEAN-US summit the following day, but will skip the East Asia Summit (EAS) on Nov. 14.
Foreign Affairs spokesman Robespierre Bolivar said the US provided the information on Trump’s Asian trip but did not give the reason for the latter’s absence at the EAS.
He said the US leader is expected to have a bilateral meeting with President Duterte.
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“The Philippine and US sides are also working out a bilateral meeting between the two presidents,” Bolivar said.
The White House announced Trump’s first official visit to Asia from Nov. 3 to 14 with stops in Japan, South Korea, China and Vietnam. The stops in South Korea and China will be state visits.
“The trip will be the President’s longest trip to date, underscoring the importance he places on the Indo-Pacific region and demonstrating the importance of robust international engagement in defense of US national security and economic prosperity for the American people,” said State Department spokesperson Heather Nauert.
The DFA said the ASEAN meeting, ASEAN Plus One, ASEAN Plus Three and East Asia Summits will be held at the Philippine International Convention Center (PICC).
Only preparatory meetings such as the Committee on Permanent Representatives and the Senior Officials’ Meetings will be held in Clark, Pampanga.
The White House said Trump’s return to the US is set for Nov. 14, or the day the EAS summit kicks off. The US will send a representative to EAS.
In Washington, Nauert said Trump’s visit to Asia will underscore his commitment to longstanding US alliances and partnerships in the region and help galvanize the international community to unite in putting pressure on North Korea.
Despite his much-touted pivot to China, Duterte is in good graces with Trump, who had praised him for “fighting very hard” to rid the Philippines of drugs.
Trump’s endorsement of Duterte came after a phone conversation between the two presidents in May during which he invited the Filipino leader to Washington, seen as part of an overture to build a broad coalition in the Asia Pacific to isolate North Korea and thwart its nuclear ambitions.
Duterte has demurred in the face of threats by human rights groups to make him feel unwelcome.
Foreign Secretary Alan Peter Cayetano during a recent visit to Washington said he hoped Trump would reissue the invitation when both men meet.
The Washington Post in an editorial on Monday said Duterte was an erratic, profane and crude leader who has presided over a violent campaign in which at least 5,000 people have been killed by police and vigilante squads.
The Post said Duterte’s recent order to police to end all operations in the war on drugs that he launched after his election in May 2016 suggested he may be pulling back from the indiscriminate campaign on the streets.
“Mr. Trump, who has an unabashed affinity for crude strongmen, should do what he can to bring Mr. Duterte back toward the United States and discourage him from resuming the extrajudicial drug war,” it said. – With Jose Katigbak, STAR Washington bureau
Courtesy: The Philippine Star | By Pia Lee-Brago | Updated October 26, 2017 – 12:00am