MANILA, Philippines (UPDATED) – Where is Obama?
US President Barack Obama was absent from the Asia-Pacific Economic Cooperation leaders’ dialogue with business delegates, the only APEC leader to miss the event on Wednesday, November 18.
The 20 other APEC economic leaders or their representatives were present at the event at the Philippine International Convention Center (PICC), with live video footage of each of their arrival broadcast on TV and online.
Instead, US Trade Representative Michael Froman was seen last, alighting from a vehicle, and entering the PICC.
The afternoon event started with the official welcome for the APEC leaders, followed by a dialogue with the APEC Business Advisory Council (ABAC), the private sector’s voice in APEC. In the dialogue, ABAC leaders present their policy recommendations to the leaders after a year of meetings and study.
Obama also held a bilateral meeting with Philippine President Benigno Aquino III on Wednesday morning.
Kurt Hoyer, press attaché at the US Embassy in Manila, told Rappler that Obama’s schedule did not permit him to attend the opening of the APEC leaders’ meeting.
“The President (Obama) looks forward to meeting his fellow leaders during the APEC Welcome Dinner tonight and APEC retreat sessions that occur all day tomorrow,” Hoyer said.
The APEC leaders will be treated to a dinner at the SM MOA Arena in Pasay Wednesday night.
Philippine foreign affairs spokesperson Charles Jose, also the APEC spokesperson, said he, too, was not aware why Obama missed the event.
“I have no idea,” Jose told reporters.
Obama arrived in Manila on Tuesday, November 17, to attend the APEC Economic Leaders’ Meeting. The APEC-ABAC meeting, though, was not listed in Obama’s official schedule posted on the White House website.
The US president is on a trip that first took him to Turkey for the G20 summit. He will next head to Malaysia for the East Asia Summit. – Rappler.com