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Tillerson to meet with Southeast Asian foreign ministers in May

Tillerson to meet with Southeast Asian foreign ministers in May

United States President Donald Trump has reportedly indicated that he would come to the Philippines for the Association of Southeast Asian Nations (ASEAN) summit in November, a diplomat said on Wednesday, April 19. While Duterte is scheduled to take part in the China summit, Trump has yet to confirm his attendance.

The ASEAN foreign ministers requested the meeting with Tillerson to engage with the new US administration early, said Patrick Murphy, the USA deputy assistant secretary of state for Southeast Asia. China claims most of the South China Sea, but has overlapping claims with a number of Southeast Asian countries. "And numerous leaders who do not attend do so because they have internal issues, which prevents them from coming", Mr. Paynor also said.

He said President Duterte may have "pull-aside" meetings with the other leaders.

Paynor expects "100%" attendance of ASEAN leaders and their dialogue partners to the November summit. "Numerous leaders who do not attend do so because of internal issues", he said.

"And you wouldn't believe that even as we speak, we are still bidding for suppliers for the subsequent meetings, which ideally all of these should have been finished before the start of the meetings in January", he added.

"But we always say we will not be coerced or held hostage by these actions".

Paynor also said the ASEAN Summit will coincide with the bilateral visits of His Majesty Sultan Bolkiah of Brunei on the 27th, and Indonesian President Joko Widodo on the 28th.

"For Indonesia I think it will be a follow-up of what President Duterte and President Widodo had talked about in Jakarta when the President went there for a visit", said Paynor.

The DFA official said Philippine trade is also expected to improve, as ASEAN members discuss various issues including trade, as well as people-to-people exchanges, cultural exchanges, educational cooperation and security cooperation. "Just like me, I am not that bright but I am very deliberate".


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