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Duterte seeks Asean unity in Cambodia, Singapore trips

The Philippine Star
Duterte seeks Asean unity in Cambodia, Singapore trips

Philippine President Rodrigo Duterte delivers a speech during a meeting with the Filipino community, in Phnom Penh, Cambodia, Tuesday, Dec. 13, 2016. Duterte on Tuesday arrived in Phnom Penh on his two-day official to Cambodia. AP Photo/Heng Sinith

MANILA, Philippines – President Duterte left yesterday for state visits to Cambodia and Singapore, where he is expected to push for a unified stand among Southeast Asian countries on issues affecting the region.

Duterte said it is important to gather insights from his fellow leaders in the region because the Philippines is set to host the Association of Southeast Asian Nations (ASEAN) summit next year.

“For the reason that we are hosting the ASEAN summit next November, I have to go around the ASEAN countries and get their views on what will be the policy or policies of ASEAN vis-à-vis the rest of the world,” he said in his departure speech at Ninoy Aquino International Airport Terminal 2.  

Duterte said the trade policies in the world seem to be “convoluted” because “we do not seem to get a clear view of where we stand with the poor nations.”   

“These state visits will reaffirm our relations with our close neighbors in Southeast Asia and seek to further strengthen our engagement with our brothers in the Association of Southeast Asian Nations,” the President said.

Budget Secretary Benjamin Diokno, acting Executive Secretary Menardo Guevarra and Office of the President Undersecretary Jesus Quitain will serve as administration caretakers.

In Cambodia, Duterte is set to meet with King Norodom Sihamoni, who invited the President to visit the country.

“The ties between his family and the family of the Philippines run long and deep. It is a strong foundation for true friendship that must be renewed,” the President said. 

Duterte will also meet with Cambodian Prime Minister Hun Sen to discuss ways to further intensify bilateral ties between the two countries.

“These include defense and security measures, bilateral trade and investments, law enforcement and the war against illegal trade of drugs; the protection of Filipino and Cambodian migrant workers; and cultural and tourism cooperation,” the President said.  

The visit takes place while the Philippines and Cambodia prepare to commemorate the 60th anniversary of diplomatic ties in 2017.

In Singapore, Duterte will meet with President Tony Tan Keng Yam and Prime Minister Lee Hsien Loong to discuss common concerns and to talk about ways to expand bilateral cooperation. 

“I will also discuss further increasing the levels of two-way trade and investments with Singapore, as I seek to strengthen defense and security cooperation to address traditional and emerging threats that undermine progress,” he said.

Duterte revealed that a Singaporean is one of the leaders of extremist groups in Sulu.

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