Southeast Asian diplomats open talks in Manila
Southeast Asia’s top diplomats opened on Saturday their annual meeting at the Philippine International Convention Center (PICC) in Metro Manila without the usual security overkill.
Motorists were allowed through as joggers, cyclists and tennis players sweated under a cloudy sky by the Manila bay—a usual destination of family members who want to get a whiff of the ocean breeze during the weekend.
The latest of the annual meetings of Southeast Asian foreign ministers is being attended by officials from different Association of Southeast Asian Nations-member countries including the U.S., China, Russia, Japan and the two Koreas.
Public traffic was only stopped when the foreign ministers from the 10-member Asean arrived mid-morning Saturday.
According to Metro Manila police chief Oscar Albayalde, President Rodrigo Duterte has shown disdain for security lockdowns that inconvenience the public.
Still, police deployed more than 13,000 officers in the capital and declared no-fly and no-sail zones around the venue.
Topping the agenda are North Korea’s intercontinental ballistic missile tests, an attempt to temper South China Sea disputes and unease over a siege by pro-Islamic State group militants in the southern Philippine city of Marawi in Mindanao region, which has dragged on for more than two months. JPV
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