UNITED States President Donald Trump is likely to attend the 31st Association of Southeast Asian Nations (Asean) Summit and Related Meetings to be held in the Philippines in November, Ambassador Marciano Paynor Jr. said Wednesday.
Paynor, director general for operations of Asean 2017 National Organizing Council, said the Philippine government is expecting the “100 percent” attendance of Trump since he had already sent a “verbal” confirmation to President Rodrigo Duterte.
“We usually expect 100 percent attendance,” Paynor told reporters, when sought for confirmation on Trump’s attendance on Asean summit later this year.
“As of now, President Trump, for instance, when President Duterte called him up to congratulate him, had already indicated that he was coming in November. So at least, verbally, he said he was coming,” he added.
Duterte earlier invited Trump to go to the Philippines to attend the Asean summit. This will be the first time the two leaders will meet, in case Trump accepts Duterte's invitation.
Duterte, who has launched series of attacks against the US for alleged interference of former US president Barack Obama, has toned down his tirades against America since Trump assumed office.
Duterte to hold bilateral meet with Indonesia, Brunei leaders
Meanwhile, the President is also expected to hold separate bilateral meetings with Indonesian President Joko Widodo and Sultan Haji Hassana Bolkiah of Brunei next week.
Duterte's bilateral talks with Widodo and Bolkiah coincide with the 30th Asean summit that will be held in Manila, starting April 26 to 29.
Paynor said Duterte is scheduled to meet Widodo and Bolkiah on April 28 and 29, respectively.
"As bilateral meetings go, it will be specific to issues that, well, relate to both countries," he said.
Paynor said there had been requests from other Asean leaders to have bilateral discussions with the President but stressed that the latter's schedule is "so tight."
He said other Asean leaders may have a "pull-aside" with the President, if their request for a bilateral meeting would not push through.
“You know, when there is a break, they go and then discuss whatever matters they may wish to bring up with President Duterte. But for the most part, these are just pleasantries and, you know, reiteration of cooperation between the two countries and stuff like that,” Paynor said.
‘Security measures heightened’
Paynor said Asean’s committee on security is preparing to ensure “zero incident” during the 30th Asean summit in Manila.
On April 26, a meeting of Asean Committee of Permanent Representatives will be held. It will then be followed by Asean Senior Officials’ Preparatory; and Brunei Darussalam-Indonesia-Malaysia-Philippines East Asean Growth Area meetings on April 27.
On April 28, there would be Indonesia-Malaysia-Thailand Growth Triangle (IMT-GT) Senior Officials’ Preparatory meeting for the 10th IMT-GT summit; Prosperity for All Summit; Asean Foreign Ministers’ Meeting; 15th Asean Political-Security Community Council Meeting; and 19th Asean Coordinating Council Meeting.
All 10 Asean leaders would then have the actual summit on April 29.
Paynor said that while security measures have been in place, officials in charge for Asean summit are also considering Duterte’s instruction to maintain "normal flow of daily activities” in Manila during the four-day long Asean meetings.
"In our security preparations, [we are] keeping in mind also the President’s directive that we should not hamper or hinder the normal flow of daily activities here in the Metro Manila area. So we’re doing all that and because of this most recent incident, we are beefing up our security elements,” he said. (SunStar Philippines)