File photo by Drew Angerer/Getty Images/AFP
MANILA, Philippines – Due to limited time, United States President Donald Trump is expected to skip the East Asia Summit (EAS), one of the major Association of Southeast Asian Nations (ASEAN) events to be held in Manila in early November.
Foreign Secretary Alan Peter Cayetano told reporters on Wednesday, October 25 that Trump's visit to the Philippines will only be from November 12 to 13.
This time frame was finalized before the Philippines' ASEAN organizing committee could confirm that the East Asia Summit will take place on the 14th.
"They were actually just waiting for the East Asia Summit. Now that it was finalized that the East Asia Summit is on the 14th, it looks like the Secretary of State will be the one to attend," said Cayetano.
He was referring to US Secretary of State Rex Tillerson.
"My latest info is that, if the EAS will push through on the 14th, [Trump] cannot extend another day because his trip is already so long," added Cayetano.
He spoke to reporters after the turnover of Russian military assistance in the Manila port.
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.
It was in his first EAS when President Rodrigo Duterte railed against the US for human rights abuses during the suppression of Muslims in Jolo, Sulu by American soldiers in the early 20th century.
His remarks shocked a roomful of world leaders and diplomats. In the audience was then US President Barack Obama, who Duterte has cursed for criticizing his war on drugs.
Cayetano downplayed any negative connotation arising from Trump skipping the EAS. After all, the bombastic American leader will still be visiting the Philippines for two days.
Trump is expected to have a bilateral meeting with Duterte during that time.
"The sign is that he is coming, he is staying for two days, he is attending most of the activities. The bilaterals with allies, including the Philippines is a very, very strong message of friendship and cooperation," said Cayetano.
Pressed about details of the Trump and Duterte meeting, the foreign affairs chief said his department has been "arranging that and finding the common time."
Trump will end his 12-day trip in Asia in the Philippines. He will also be visiting China, Japan, South Korea, and Vietnam. – Rappler.com
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 email@example.com.