PRESIDENT Rodrigo Duterte on Tuesday said Turkey and Mongolia had expressed interest in joining the Association of Southeast Asian Nations (Asean), which the Philippines is leading this year.
In a news conference upon his arrival in Davao City from Beijing, Duterte said he spoke with Turkish President Tayyip Erdogan and Mongolian Prime Minister Jargaltulgyn Erdenebat.
“By the way, I had a talk with the President Erdogan and the Prime Minister Erdenebat [of]Mongolia. Gusto nila na mag-sali sa Asean [They want to join Asean],” Duterte told reporters.
“Since I am now the chair, ang Pilipinas ngayon [it’s the Philippines as chairman now], they wanted me to sponsor their entry and I said, ‘Yes, why not?’” he added.
Apparently, however, the plan was politely questioned by Aung San Suu Kyi, state counsellor of Myanmar, who was also in China for the Beijing-led “Belt and Road” forum.
“[The woman], Aung San Suu Kyi, [she said], ‘Have you considered the physical – the geography whether they are part of the Asean or not?’ They are. I would say that they are,” Duterte said.
“Turkey, it seems to be ambivalent [on]whether to be a bridge to Europe and Asia or [be]an Asian [country]. [They are not clear on that]. There has always been an ambivalent view,” he added.
To date, there are 10 Asean member-states: Brunei, Cambodia, Indonesia, Laos, Malaysia, Myanmar, Philippines, Singapore, Thailand and Vietnam.
But non-Asean parties can join the meetings of the 10-member regional bloc as dialogue partners, sectoral dialogue partners, development partners, special observers, or guests.
Asean has dialogue partnerships with 10 parties: Australia, Canada, China, the European Union, India, Japan, New Zealand, the Republic of Korea, Russia and the United States.