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South China Sea feuds on agenda of Asean summit

/ 07:29 AM November 10, 2018

AFFECTED SECTOR Fishermen’s group Pamalakaya holds a rally in May in front of the Chinese Consulate in Makati City to protest Chinese incursions into Philippine fishing grounds.

Territorial disputes in the South China Sea were expected to be discussed during the 33rd Association of Southeast Asian Nations (Asean) Summit and related summits in Singapore next week, which President Duterte would attend.

One of the major issues likely to be tackled is the maritime dispute involving China and some members of the regional bloc, according to Foreign Affairs Assistant Secretary Junever Mahilum-West.

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“We are quite sure that the South China Sea, as I’ve mentioned before, would be one of those regional developments that would be taken up in the summit,” she said.

Korean tension

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“As to the details of the discussions, I cannot say but for sure there’s going to be discussion on the South China Sea,” she said.

Another regional issue up for discussion are developments in the Korean Peninsula.

West said President Duterte might have a chance to talk with Chinese President Xi Jinping on the sidelines of the Asean summit, given the small size of the venue.

Xi was expected to visit the Philippines shortly after the Asean summit.

The President will leave for Singapore on Monday to take part in the three-day Asean summit.

West said the venue of the summit was a “very small place so there’s always the possibility” of Mr. Duterte meeting with Xi.

Other issues

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“But any meetings would have to be prepared beforehand,” she said. “So we’ll just see,” she added.

US President Donald Trump, who could not make it to the Asean summit, will be represented by US Vice President Mike Pence. Russia will be represented by President Vladimir Putin.

Mr. Duterte had expressed admiration for Trump and Putin, referring to Trump as his friend and Putin, his idol.

The President was expected to tackle several key issues concerning the country and the region as a whole, according to West.

West said these were issues very important to the Philippines like micro, small and medium enterprises.

“Also, nontraditional issues like countering terrorism, violent extremism, combating illicit drugs, and trafficking in persons” would be discussed, West said.

“We would also be very interested in women and youth development, disaster management, climate change and people-to-people exchanges,” she said.

Transnational and other issues like terrorism, violent extremism, trafficking in persons, illicit drugs, climate change and disaster management may also be tackled.

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