US Secretary of State Rex Tillerson will be attending the Association of Southeast Asian Nations (Asean) Regional forum and other meetings that will be held in Manila from August 5 to 9, the State Department said on Wednesday.
In a statement Heather Nauert, a spokesman for the office, said Manila was one of three stops Tillerson would be making during his travel to the region.
Apart from participating in the Asean Regional Forum (ARF), Tillerson will also be joining the East Asia Summit Ministerial, the US-Asean Ministerial, and the Lower Mekong Initiative Ministerial.
“During these meetings, Secretary Tillerson will meet with his counterparts and discuss a range of issues including the denuclearization of the Korean Peninsula, maritime security, and counterterrorism,” Nauert said in a statement.
She added that Tillerson’s travel reaffirmed the commitment of the US to further broaden and enhance its economic and security interests in the Asia-Pacific region.
After his travel to Manila, Tillerson will proceed to Thailand to pay his respects to His Majesty the late King Bhumibol Adulyadej and discuss the US and Thailand partnership and other regional issues.
He will also visit Kuala Lumpur to discuss with officials the strengthening of cooperation on a range of issues in the 60th year of US-Malaysia bilateral relations.
The Philippines as head of Asean in 2017 will host the 50th Asean Foreign Ministers Meeting and other related meetings.
The foreign minister of the Democratic People’s Republic of Korea (DPRK) will be attending the Regional Forum of the Asean.
Foreign ministers from 27 countries will participate in the 50th AMM, which is considered a very important event because it will also coincide the grand celebration of the 50th anniversary of the Asean.
Among the major outcomes of the meeting is the endorsement of the framework on the Code of Conduct (COC) on the West Philippine Sea (South China Sea).
The Department of Foreign Affairs (DFA) said that Asean member-nations intended to complete the COC framework by middle of 2017 in order to fast track its completion.
“After the Ministers endorse the Framework, we expect them to task the Joint Working Group to begin discussions on the actual Code,” said DFA spokesman Robespierre Bolivar.
The grand celebration of the 50th Anniversary of Asean will be one of the highlights of the event, as well as the closing ceremony of the 50th AMM, which will be held on August 8.