No bilateral meeting between Duterte, Trump at APEC meet, says PH official

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PRESIDENT Rodrigo Duterte will not have a bilateral meeting with US counterpart Donald Trump on the sidelines of the Asia-Pacific Economic Cooperation (APEC) Conference in Da Nang, Vietnam but will have one in Manila, which will host the Association of Southeast Asian (Asean) Summit next week, a Philippine official said on Thursday.

“Hindi dito, pagdating sa Manila na [They will not meet here (Vietnam) but when they arrive in Manila],” Trade Secretary Ramon Lopez told reporters.

Foreign Affairs Undersecretary for International Economic Relations Manuel Teehankee said, however, that there may still be opportunities for the two leaders to interact during the APEC Summit that will take place from November 8 to 10.

“Of course (they will see each other here)…. Alll the leaders will be assembled to receive the report of the APEC Business Advisory Council.  So all 21 leaders, both President Trump and President Duterte included, will be there to receive the report of the APEC Business Advisory Council,” he said.

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“There is this Asean APEC dialogue. So President Trump will be included in the APEC leaders. And of course, President Duterte will be — It will be a roundtable of all 21 plus three. So it will [be]24 leaders on this table because we have the additions of Myanmar, Laos, and Cambodia,” he added.

Teehankee said there was scheduled bilateral talks between Trump and Duterte on the sidelines of the Asean Summit in Manila.

“So they’re working out the schedule. Most likely that is being targeted for… a fuller bilateral will be and more impressive in the Asean context, where of course, the President is the host country and the host chair at the Gala dinner, as well as in this very important bilateral meeting between — it will be the first ever meeting between President Trump and President Duterte,” he said.

Based on the schedule sent to reporters, Duterte will have bilateral meetings with the leaders of Russia, Chile, Vietnam, and Hong Kong. The President may also hold a dialogue with Chinese President Xi Jinping.

During the same press briefing, Teehankee said that a meeting between Duterte and Putin on Friday “would be an opportunity for them to resume their discussions, as well as to express thanks for the commitment and aid of Russia in the Marawi crisis.”

It will be the third time that the two leaders will be meeting. The two first met during the APEC Summit in Peru in 2016.

The outbreak of the Marawi crisis in May prompted Duterte to cut short his official trip to Moscow. He was able to meet Putin briefly though.

The two leaders, Teehankee said, were expected to focus on enhancing cooperation, especially in security with the Marawi crisis likely to be included in the discussions.

“And of course, there is also the important factor of economic cooperation, which is the highlight of APEC and the increased potential of economics, business and trade and investment between Russia and the Philippines,” he said.

After his meeting with Putin, Duterte will have a “pull-aside meeting” with Hong Kong Chief Executive Carrie Lam.

On Saturday, November 11, his last day in Vietnam, there is a “proposed” meeting with Chinese President Xi.

Meanwhile, Ambassador to Vietnam Noel Servigon said the meeting between Duterte and Vietnam President Tran Dai Quang on Thursday would be their second as the Philippine leader was here in 2016 for an official visit.

Servigon said Duterte would also congratulate Quang for the successful hosting of the APEC.

They will also discuss increased dialogue, bilateral economic relations, as well as recent developments in the Southeast Asian region, he added.

APEC schedule

On Thursday, Duterte’s first full day there, he is expected to attend the APEC welcome ceremony hosted by APEC CEO Summit Chairman Dr Vu Tien Loc.

He will then give a keynote speech during APEC Summit Session 7 titled “Regional Economic Integration-Lessons Learnt from Asean.” He will do so in his capacity as this year’s chairman of the Association of Southeast Asian Nations.

On Friday, Duterte will attend a welcome ceremony for APEC leaders.

He will also attend the Plenary Session of the APEC Business Advisory Council (ABAC) Dialogue with APEC Leaders.

With a smaller group of leaders, Duterte will join a breakout session to be followed by an informal dialogue between APEC and Asean.

On Friday night, all APEC leaders and their spouses will attend a gala dinner hosted by President Tran Dai Quang and Madame Nguyen Thi Hien.

On Saturday, APEC leaders will participate in two APEC Economic Leaders’ Meeting retreats and a working lunch in between.

The themes of these sessions are “Growth Inclusion and Sustainable Employment in the Digital Age,” “Fostering Shared Future,” and “New Drivers for Regional Trade, Investment, and Connectivity.”

All leaders will then take part in the traditional APEC leaders’ family photo before the conclusion and farewell ceremonies.

 

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