Rody to meet Trump in Vietnam

Christina Mendez (The Philippine Star) - November 6, 2017 - 4:00pm

MANILA, Philippines — It will be at the Asia-Pacific Economic Cooperation (APEC) Leaders’ Summit in Da Nang, Vietnam on Friday and Saturday that President Duterte and United States President Donald Trump will have the chance to meet for the first time, possibly for bilateral talks.

In a pre-departure briefing at Malacañang yesterday, Foreign Affairs Assistant Secretary Leo Herrera Lim said there are several chances for the two leaders to meet personally but a bilateral meeting or a pull-aside meeting has yet to be finalized.  

“There are several opportunities for exchanges. If you see pretty much a convergence between the two Presidents would be: one, on national security, both at the country level and at the regional level; and then number two, the desire to grow the different engines of global economy,” Lim said.

Another source told The STAR, however, that a bilateral meeting in Vietnam is unlikely as they already have one scheduled in Manila for Nov. 13.

Duterte will have a chance to meet Trump during the official welcome for the leaders and their spouses at the Sheraton Hotel, to be followed by a gala dinner and cultural presentation on Nov. 10.

Another opportunity will be during the APEC Economic Leaders Retreat on Saturday at the Intercontinental Resort in Da Nang, a vibrant tourist destination well-known for its 60-kilometer white silky sand beaches and resorts surrounded by the majestic Truong Son mountain range.

Twenty-one world leaders are expected to attend the APEC summit, with the theme “Creating a new Dynamism, Fostering a Shared Future.”

Duterte is scheduled to fly to Vietnam tomorrow for the event.

Trump will be in Manila from Nov. 12 to 14 for the Association of Southeast Asian Nations (ASEAN) and East Asia summits and related meetings.

Presidential spokesman Harry Roque said he sees the two leaders having more extensive talks and interaction in Manila during the ASEAN event. 

“Well, you know, don’t expect too much because that’s APEC. There’s a lot more heads of state participating compared to ASEAN. And unlike ASEAN he’s not chairing APEC,” Roque said, noting Duterte is chairman of the ASEAN.

“So while I understand there will be bilateral talks, I don’t think it will be as extensive as his bilateral talks here in Manila, plus the fact that he will be spending a whole – an extra day in Manila,” Roque said.

Lim said the APEC is a good opportunity for the country to put forward its advocacies and the growth concerns in the region.

After the APEC meet, Philippine ambassador to the US Jose Manuel Romualdez said Duterte will have a very busy week as chairman of the ASEAN.

“The President has a hectic and overwhelming schedule for the ASEAN summit,” Romualdez said.

In the 2017 APEC Economic Leaders Meeting, Lim said key priorities of the Philippines would include promoting further micro, small and medium enterprises in the global economy, sustainable and inclusive growth, and connectivity and human resources development.

“I think it needs assessing that nine out of our 10 top trading partners are within the APEC economies and then in particular also, it’s very rare that APEC and ASEAN meetings will happen back to back within the ASEAN region,” he said.

Meanwhile, a US think tank said Trump should raise with Duterte the US concerns regarding the latter’s prosecution of its war against drugs.

In a commentary titled “Asia Trip a Chance for Trump to Set Things Right,” Heritage Foundation Asian Studies Center director Walter Lohman, Northeast Asia senior research fellow Bruce Klinger, Asian Studies Center senior research fellow Dean Cheng said other strategic issues to discuss during Trump’s meeting with Duterte are concerns over Chinese activities in the South China Sea, the struggle against terrorism and the disposition of US forces in the Philippines. – With Pia Lee-Brago


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