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Bali leaders’ meet an Asean ‘show of force’ – envoy

/ 02:15 PM October 10, 2018

Indonesian President Joko Widodo (left) and Philippine President Rodrigo Duterte have a bilateral meeting in Manila in this file photo taken April 28, 2017. AFP FILE

BALI, Indonesia – The meeting of leaders of the Association of Southeast Asian Nations (Asean) here on Thursday will be a show of force and unity of the member-states.

At a press briefing on Wednesday, Philippine ambassador to Indonesia Leehiong Wee said, “Asean in the past few years has been, has become a potent force in the world arena.”

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He noted that the world’s biggest countries are gravitating towards Southeast Asia.

“The purpose of this meeting is for Indonesia to show to the world that Asean is united as a group,” Wee said, referring to Thursday’s meeting of Asean heads of state in Bali.

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The gathering will take place ahead of the International Monetary Fund-World Bank conference scheduled from October 12 to 15 also here on this Indonesian island.

Wee said that with Indonesia’s being the biggest country in Asean, it would provide “a good forum for Indonesia to show to the world that Asean leaders are united… And I think this is a good sign to the world that we are united as group and to further enhance Asean to the world.”

Indonesia’s success in handling the Asian games gave the country’s prestige in the international community a big boost apart from its gearing up as a world economic player, being a member of the group of 20.

“In fact, I learned that they are bidding for the Olympic Games in 2032 to be done in Jakarta,” Wee noted.

“The Asean leaders, I think through President Widodo, will be able to express to the IMF-WB the sentiments of Asean, the needs of all of the Asean countries,” the ambassador said.

Wee pointed out that part of the Philippines’ and Indonesia’s initiatives during the Asean leaders’ meeting would be the regional peace and order situation, particularly on terrorism.

“We have been talking with Indonesia in many forums to help us develop the peace and order in the Philippines especially southern part of the Philippines and also the border between the seas, the Celebes Sea,” he noted.

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Informal bilateral talks between Presidents Rodrigo Duterte and Joko Widodo might also focus on terrorism and trade.

According to Wee, “The last four months that I’ve been here, we have asked a lot of stakeholders to revise the Davao-Manado route. Probably within the year or early next year there will be air routes that will come from Davao to Manado.”

He added that a Philippine fastfood company is looking to open an outlet in Jakarta. /cbb

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