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Trump lauds Philippines for closing gender gap, heaps praises on other Asian nations

U.S. President Donald Trump arrives at Danang International Airport in Danang, Vietnam, Friday, Nov. 10, 2017. AP/Mark Schiefelbein

MANILA, Philippines — US President Donald Trump on Friday praised the Philippines for the strides it had achieved in gender equality and heaped paeans on a host of Indo-Pacific nations for their economic and social transformations in the past decades.

Speaking at the Asia Pacific Economic Cooperation meeting in Vietnam, Trump praised the host nation, the Philippines as well as Indonesia, Thailand, China, Japan, South Korea, Malaysia, Thailand and India for their economic transformations, saying that the US has been an active partner of the region since it gained independence.

Trump applauded Manila particularly for its achievements in closing the gender gap and for embracing women leaders in both business and politics.

"The Philippines has emerged as a nation of strong and devout families. For 11 consecutive years, the World Economic Forum has ranked the Philippines first among Asian countries in closing the gender gap and embracing women leaders in business and politics," Trump said during his remarks before leaders and businessmen of the region.

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Trump is on his fourth stop in a five-country swing in Asia Pacific that will bring him face-to-face with the region's leaders jittery over North Korea's missile and nuclear program, Washington's shift inwards and the looming threat of terrorism.

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He has met in the past days the leaders of Japan, South Korea and China where he was treated to lavish welcome ceremonies that were sure to please the businessman-turned-politician.

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Aside from the Philippines, Trump also lauded other Indo-Pacific nations for their "extraordinary progress in the last half century."

He complimented the host of the gathering, Vietnam, for its economic development which propelled it as "one of the fastest-growing economies on earth," a remarkable transformation in relations between former Cold War adversaries that fought a bloody war in the 60s.

The American leader also touted Indonesia, a large archipelago home to the third largest democracy on earth, for its efforts to build domestic and democratic institutions in the past decade. He also touted Jakarta for its economic development that made it one of the fastest economies in the G-20 group of nations.

He also took note of Thailand's transformation to become an upper-middle income country in less than a generation. He said that during this period Bangkok had become the most visited country on earth.

"That is very impressive," he said.

In the case of Malaysia, it was able to rapidly develop and become one of the best places on earth to do business, according to Trump, whose companies have interests in the region.

He also extolled former Singaporean Prime Minister Lee Kuan Yu for transforming the island-nation and making its citizens one of the highest earners in the world

In the case of South Koreans, Trump praised the country for getting back to its feet after being ravaged by war, becoming one of the wealthiest democracies in the world, providing higher income to its people than what some European countries do, he noted.

"Everyone knows of China's impressive achievements over the past several decades. During this period of great market reforms, large parts of China experienced rapid economic growth. Jobs boomed and more than 800 million citizens rose out of poverty," Trump said of China.

He also applauded Tokyo for becoming a dynamic democracy in a "land of industrial, technological and cultural wonders" and for producing 24 Nobel prize awardees in fewer than 60 years.

In a sign of India's importance in Washington's eyes, Trump also talked of and lauded the nation despite being not a member of APEC.

Since India opened its economy, it has achieved "astounding growth and a new world of opportunity for its expanding middle class," he said.

READ:  Warm Philippines welcome for Trump amid improving, irreversible ties

Trump said, "I've had the honor sharing the vision for a free and open Indo-Pacific, a place where free and sovereign nations with diverse cultures and many different dreams can prosper side by side and thrive in freedom and peace."

The American leader stated that the Indo-Pacific region had emerged and was still emerging as a beautiful constellation of nations each its own bright star satellites to none and each one a people, a culture, a way of life and a home."

He heaped praises on the region's leaders and people for pursuing a vision of justice and accountability, promoting private property and the rule of law and embracing systems that valued hard work and individual enterprise.

"They built businesses, they built cities, they built entire countries from the ground up," Trump noted.

After the APEC summit, Trump will fly to Manila where he is expected to attend a gathering of Southeast Asia's leaders.

READ: Trump to extend stay in Philippines for East Asia meet

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