Duterte leads opening rites of 31st Asean summit

PRESIDENT Rodrigo Duterte on Monday, November 13, welcomed nine Southeast Asian leaders and other heads of state at the opening ceremony of the 31st Association of Southeast Asian Nations (Asean) held at the Cultural Center of the Philippines (CCP) in Pasay City.

Duterte, this year's chairperson of Asean, was accompanied by his common-law wife, Cielito Avanceña.

Brunei Sultan Hassanal Bolkiah, Cambodian Prine Minister Hun Sen, Indonesian President Joko Widodo, Laos Prime Minsiter Thongloun Sisoulith, Malaysia Prime Minister Najib Razak, Myanmar state counselor Aung San Suu Kyi, Singapore Prime Minister Lee Hsien Loong, Thailand Prime Minister Prayuth Chan-ocha, and Vietnam Prime Minister Nguyen Xuan Phuc were in attendance.

Also present were other world leaders, including United States President Donald Trump, Canadian Prime Minister Justin Trudeau, Japanese Prime Minister Shinzo Abe, European Union President Donald Tusk, and United Nations Secretary General Antonio Guterres.

Duterte is set to deliver a keynote speech during the opening rites of 31st Asean summit at the plenary hall of the Philippine International Convention Center.

He is also slated to officiate several key meetings with Southeast Asian leaders and the Asean's dialogue partners on November 13 to 14.

In a message delivered during the gala dinner on Sunday, Duterte expressed optimism that he would have "constructive and substantive" dialogue with them.

"Throughout our chairmanship of Asean in 2017, the Philippines has been guided by the theme, 'Partnering for Change, Engaging the World,' which captures Asean's resolve to effect positive change in the lives of our peoples and assert our position in the global economy," Duterte said.

"I look forward to having constructive and substantive discussions with Your Majesty and Your Excellencies in our upcoming meetings. Let us start on a positive note with tonight's celebration of Asean's 50 years," he added. (SunStar Philippines)

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