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Duterte-Trump talks to include Drugs, terrorism

02 November 2017

When President Duterte meets with US President Donald Trump in Manila in mid-November, illegal drugs, terrorism, and trade relations between the Philippines and the United States will be high on the agenda, according to Foreign Affairs Secretary Alan Peter Cayetano.

Duterte and Trump would have a bilateral meeting at the sidelines of the Association of Southeast Asian Nations (Asean) summit to be held in Manila on November 13 - 15.

“What’s the fundamental interest, intersecting interest of America and the Philippines? First is security…which includes terrorism and drugs, the threat of terrorism and illegal drugs. Secondly, trade. So if you have security but the people are hungry, it’s useless,” Cayetano said.

According to him, the Trump administration had pivoted on free trade, which could be an opening to a bilateral agreement with the Philippines.

“They’re negotiating many regional and multilateral trade agreements but there’s a possibility that we will explore a bilateral agreement,” he said.

The White House has announced that Trump would visit Manila on November 12 to 13 to participate in Asean meetings to be hosted by Duterte, chairman of the regional bloc this year. The White House said Trump would visit Manila as part of his Asian tour, which would also take him to China, Japan, South Korea, Vietnam and the US state of Hawaii.

Trump’s schedule will allow him to attend the special gala celebration of the 50th anniversary of Asean and the Asean-US meeting, according to a DFA statement.

However, Trump will skip the East Asia Summit (EAS) on November 14 in Pampanga.

“The decision was really that he will be here on the 12th and 13th [of November]. We tried to accommodate. We tried to fix all the schedules. But since you’re dealing with more than a dozen world leaders plus the Asean, it’s very difficult to get all the schedules together,” Cayetano said.

“They were actually just waiting for the East Asia summit (schedule). Now that it has been finalized that the East Asia Summit will be on the 14th, it looks like his Secretary of State would be the one to attend,” he added, referring to US Secretary of State Rex Tillerson.

The EAS is composed of the 10 Asean countries Brunei, Cambodia, Indonesia, Laos, Malaysia, Myanmar, the Philippines, Singapore, Thailand and Vietnam; and dialogue partners Australia, China, India, Japan, New Zealand, South Korea, US and Russia.

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