MANILA, Philippines – US President Donald Trump will skip the East Asia Summit in the Philippines on November 14 because he needs to be back in Washington on the same day, the US ambassador said.
"It's purely for scheduling reasons," US Ambassador to the Philippines Sung Kim said in a forum with the Foreign Correspondents' Association of the Philippines (FOCAP) on Thursday, October 26.
Referring to Trump's trip, Kim added, "This is a long trip to the Philippines, and for very important reasons, he needs to be back in Washington on the 14th, and that's why he will not be able to participate in the East Asia Summit."
The EAS is an annual summit attended by all 10 ASEAN countries and dialogue partners like the US, Australia, New Zealand, China, India, Japan, Russia, and South Korea.
Philippine Foreign Secretary Alan Peter Cayetano earlier said Trump will be in Manila only from November 12 to 13 for the Association of Southeast Asian Nations (ASEAN) Summit and Related Summits hosted by the Philippines.
Despite Trump's absence at the East Asia Summit, Kim said that the US "remains fully committed to the Asia Pacific."
Referring to Trump, Kim said, "I really don't think the fact that the President cannot stay for the East Asia Summit in any way indicates a weakening of our commitment to the Asia-Pacific Region."
Kim added that Trump is expected to meet with Philippine President Rodrigo Duterte in Manila.
Asked if human rights will be on their agenda, Kim said, "I think we can expect that the two leaders will be open and frank with each other, and in the context of discussing important developments in the Philippines and in the United States, a full range of issues will be discussed." – Rappler.com
Paterno R. Esmaquel II is a senior reporter leading Rappler’s coverage of religion and foreign affairs. He finished MA Journalism in Ateneo and MSc Asian Studies (Religions in Plural Societies) at RSIS, Singapore. For story ideas or feedback, email him at firstname.lastname@example.org.