Foreign Affairs Secretary Alan Peter Cayetano on Wednesday clarified reports that US President Donald Trump would skip the East Asia Summit (EAS) in Manila on November 14.
Cayetano said Trump had no intention of skipping the EAS, a forum held annually by leaders of countries in the East Asian region. Its membership has been expanded to include the US and Russia among others.
The Foreign Affairs secretary explained that Trump had been scheduled to be in Manila for the Association of Southeast Asian Nations (Asean) Summit on Nov. 12 to 13. The US president could not extend his stay up to Nov. 14.
“The decision was really that he will be here on 12th, 13th. 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,” he told reporters in an ambush interview in Manila.
“They were actually just waiting for the East Asia summit. 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.
“He (Trump) cannot extend another day kasi mahaba na iyong trip niya. Having said that, that’s normal,” he said.
“It would have been great if President Trump could attend all the activities but the reality is any world leader, especially of the United States, cannot spend too many days outside (their country),” he added.
“You can’t really attend everything,” Cayetano said.
He stressed, “The main signal is him coming here.”
Cayetano said Duterte and Trump would have a bilateral meeting where they would discuss issues on illegal drugs, security, terrorism, trade, and the economy.
Trump’s visit, Cayetano said, signals “a very, very strong message of friendship” with the Philippines. /cbb
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