Duterte, Trump to finally meet in Vietnam APEC summit

MANILA, Philippines – Firebrand Philippine President Rodrigo Duterte is set to meet US President Donald Trump on Wednesday, November 8 when both attend the Asia-Pacific Economic Cooperation Summit in Da Nang, Vietnam.

Foreign Affairs Assistant Secretary Leo Herrera-Lim said on Monday, November 6 that the two are likely to see each other for the first time during the welcome dinner for APEC leaders on Wednesday.

Duterte will be in Vietnam for the international gathering from November 8 to 11.

There are several other opportunities for them to interact, including the main APEC leaders' summit and the APEC-ASEAN meeting.

Lim said there is a "higher than 50% chance" of Trump and Duterte having a bilateral meeting or pull-aside meeting on the sidelines of the summit, even if the two leaders are seeing each other again the following week for the Association of Southeast Asian Nations (ASEAN) Summit in Manila.

The two are likely to discuss security threats and the economy during their meeting.

"If you see pretty much a convergence between the two presidents would be one on national security, both at the country level and at the regional level, and then number two, the desire to grow the different engines of global economy so that at least there will be a bigger participation of the population and the benefits of a free and open trading system," said Lim.

Trump, however, is known to support protectionist policies. One of his biggest statements on this issue is his pulling out the US from the Trans-Pacific Partnership, which had been championed by his predecessor Barack Obama.

Meetings with Xi, Putin

Aside from Trump, the DFA is also arranging other bilateral meetings for the Philippine President, including meetings with Chinese President Xi Jinping and Russian President Vladimir Putin.

Duterte has referred to these two leaders as his "good friends" and cited their support as reasons not to worry about ebbing US support for his administration.

Lim said the likelihood of Xi and Putin not attending the ASEAN Summit in Manila is one factor that will determine the chances of bilateral meetings with them in Vietnam.

Duterte is also likely to have a bilateral meeting with Vietnam President Tran Dai Quang or Prime Minister Nguyen Xuan Phuc since Vietnam is the host of the APEC Summit.

Lim stressed the importance of APEC to the Philippines as a regional economic bloc, saying that 9 out of the country's top 10 trading partners are APEC countries. – Rappler.com

Pia Ranada

Pia Ranada covers the Office of the President and Bangsamoro regional issues for Rappler. While helping out with desk duties, she also watches the environment sector and the local government of Quezon City. For tips or story suggestions, you can reach her at pia.ranada@rappler.com.