Duterte to attend 33rd ASEAN Summit in Singapore

Duterte to attend 33rd ASEAN Summit in Singapore

ASEAN Leaders during the Opening Ceremony of the 32nd Summit in Singapore. From left to right: Tun Musa Hitam (Malaysia), U Win Myint (Myanmar),
Rodrigo Roa Duterte (Philippines), Nguyen Xuan Phuc (Vietnam), Lee Hsien Loong (Singapore), Prayut Chan-o-cha (Thailand), Sultan Haji Hassanal Bolkiah (Brunei),
Samdech Hun Sen (Cambodia), Joko Widodo (Indonesia), Thongloun Sisoulith (Laos)
(Photo credit: ASEAN2018 Organising Committee)

MANILA, Philippines – President Rodrigo Duterte is set to depart for Singapore to attend the 33rd Association of South East Asian Nations (ASEAN) Summit from November 13 to 15.

He will be joining other ASEAN leaders and dialogue partners in the said event.

The Department of Foreign Affairs (DFA) revealed some of the agenda that the ASEAN leaders are expected to address such as infrastructure development, economic integration, issues regarding the Korean Peninsula and the South China Sea, as well as transnational and transboundary issues including terrorism, violent extremism and illicit drugs among others.

The heads of states will also hold the second summit on the Regional Comprehensive Economic Partnership (RCEP) although leaders are not expected to conclude the negotiations on the matter in the summit.

RCEP is a proposed free trade agreement among the ten ASEAN member countries.

“We were hoping that the RCEP would be concluded by the time of the Summit but it seems that we’ll have to wait a little bit longer. During the Summit, the leaders would express their commitment to conclude the negotiations because this is very important for the region, especially in view of the rising trade developments, tensions, unilateral actions, and we expect the leaders to call for the expeditious conclusion of the RCEP,” said DFA Assistant Secretary for ASEAN Affairs Juniver Mahilum-West.

Meanwhile, it is highly expected that the leaders will discuss matters regarding the South China Sea or the West Philippine Sea. The Philippines is in charge of the coordinatorship on ASEAN-China Dialogue Partnership this year until 2021.

“And we are quite sure that the South China Sea, as I’ve mentioned before, would be one of those regional developments that would be taken up in the Summit. As to the detail of the discussions, I cannot say but for sure there’s going to be discussion on the South China Sea,” the Assistant Secretary said.

Leaders are expected to release outcome documents after the summits.

Meanwhile, U.S. President Donald Trump will not attend the November summit. U.S. Vice President Mike Pence will attend on his behalf. Reports said Trump will travel to Paris to attend the 100th commemoration of Armistice that ended World War I.

Nevertheless, Russian President Vladimir Putin and Chinese Premier Li Keqiang will be in attendance at the Summit.

The DFA said that about four to five leaders have requested an audience with President Duterte on the sidelines of the event. – Marje Pelayo (with reports from Rosalie Coz)

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