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Aquino, Obama to hold bilateral meeting in Bali

MANILA, Philippines - President Aquino and US President Barack Obama are set to hold a bilateral meeting in Bali, Indonesia on the side of the Association of Southeast Asian Nations’ summit with the United States.

Aquino will be in Indonesia from Nov. 17 to 19, shortly after his attending the Asia-Pacific Economic Cooperation summit in Hawaii from Nov. 12 to 13.

Aquino and Obama will co-chair the 3rd ASEAN-US meeting where the Philippines is coordinator.

In a briefing for the upcoming ASEAN summit, Department of Foreign Affairs spokesman Raul Hernandez said “yes” when asked about the bilateral meeting between Aquino and Obama.

However, Foreign Affairs Undersecretary for Policy Erlinda Basilio refused to elaborate.

“The schedule of the President insofar as the bilateral meetings are concerned is still being prepared,” she said.

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“So I don’t know how many leaders he will be meeting given the number of summits that will take place.

“It’s very likely that he’ll be meeting with some of the leaders whether on a full-blown bilateral consultative meeting or whether they are at pull asides or discussions during working dinners or lunches.

“It is being arranged but we are coordinator of the ASEAN-US Leaders’ Meeting so as co-coordinator, of course, the President will be talking with the US President.”

Basilio said as co-chairmen of the ASEAN-US summit, the two leaders would discuss how they would go about the meeting.

“How they will best ensure that the joint declaration that the leaders will come up with will enjoy the full support of everybody,” she said.

“It’s important for both leaders to talk and discuss all these procedural substantive matters.”

Basilio, however, would not discuss the agenda for the meeting of Aquino and Obama on the relations between the Philippines and the US.

The 19th ASEAN summit will formally start on Nov. 17 which will be followed by the plenary and retreat Sessions and the ASEAN Leaders’ Meeting with the ASEAN Business Advisory Council.

The agreements and declarations to be signed by the ASEAN ministers that will be witnessed by the ASEAN leaders include the Agreement on the Establishment of the ASEAN Coordinating Center for Humanitarian Assistance on Disaster Management (AHA Center) and the Declaration on ASEAN Unity in Cultural Diversity: Towards Strengthening the ASEAN Community.

The ASEAN leaders will also sign the Bali Declaration on the ASEAN Community in a Global Community of Nations, where they seek a common ASEAN voice on international issues aside from establishing one ASEAN community by 2015.

Aquino will also attend the ASEAN-China Commemorative summit followed by the launching of the ASEAN-China Center, the 14th ASEAN-Japan summit and the 14th ASEAN-Republic of Korea summit.

There will also be the 14th ASEAN Plus Three summit and the 3rd ASEAN-US summit.

On Nov. 19, the activities include the 4th ASEAN-United Nations summit, the 9th ASEAN-India Summit and the 6th East Asia Summit.

Basilio said Aquino will focus on following Philippine advocacies for ASEAN which are aligned with the three pillars of foreign policy, namely political security, economic diplomacy, and assistance to nationals.

The Philippine advocacies to ASEAN are: the Zone of Peace Freedom, Friendship and Cooperation in the West Philippine Sea; maritime security; non-proliferation of nuclear weapons; food security; disaster management; ASEAN connectivity; biodiversity; migrant workers’ protection; drug trafficking; human rights; trafficking in persons; and education.

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