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Aquino, Hu eye bilateral talks on sidelines of APEC summit in Russia

/ 12:15 PM September 06, 2012

President Benigno Aquino III and President Hu Jintao. INQUIRER CONTRIBUTED PHOTO/AP

RUSSKIY ISLAND, Vladivostok, Russia — President Benigno Aquino III will hold bilateral talks with Chinese President Hu Jin Tao and leaders of Vietnam, Singapore and Chile on the sidelines of the 20th Asia-Pacific Economic Cooperation (APEC) Leaders’ Meeting in an island here.

In an interview with Philippine reporters at the Far Eastern Federal University campus, site of the APEC meeting, Foreign Affairs Undersecretary Laura Q. del Rosario said there has been a “mutal request” between the Philippines and China for a bilateral meeting although they have yet to firm up when it would be held during the summit from September 8 to 9 and what the agenda would be.

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“Our problem is that do they have a common time, you know, because, I think, the leader of the Chinese economy is also very busy. I’m sure we are not the only ones who want to meet with him. Remember they are 21. Even if we just get request from half of them that will already fill up your three and a half hours. Each leader only has three and a half hours to accommodate all the request so it is really complicated. I don’t know how the last final list will look like,” said Del Rosario.

Del Rosario said there was no “pre-agreed agenda” in the Aquino-Hu meeting amid tensions between the two countries on which owned two groups of islands — Scarborough and the Spratly’s — straddling their borders. “It’s anybody’s guess but definitely these bilaterals add to the – what do you call that – to the improvement of understanding between two sides whether it’s China, whether it’s – let’s say it’s Peru or Chile – you know. It’s a very rare moment for these leaders to be together,” said Del Rosario.

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So far, Del Rosario said the President has set a meeting with Vietnamese President Truong Tan Sang, Singapore Prime Minister Lee Hsien Loong, and Chile President Sebastian Pinera Echenique. The meeting with Singapore and Chile will be held at 9 a.m. on Saturday while the Vietnam meeting had been set for Sunday at 10:15 a.m.

The President was expected to arrive Friday evening. September 7, Manila time, (9 p.m. Vladivostok time), along with 20 other world leaders in the annual meeting of APEC countries that account for 40 percent of the world’s population and 54 percent of the world’s gross domestic product.

The President will be accompanied in a chartered Philipine Airlines flight by Foreign Affairs Secretary Albert del Rosario, Trade and Industry Secretary Gregory Domingo and Finance Secretary Cesar Purisima.

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TAGS: APEC, Asia-Pacific Economic Cooperation, Benigno Aquino III, Bilateral talks, China, Diplomacy, Foreign Affairs and International relations, Hu Jintao, Philippines, Russia, Spratlys, West Philippine Sea (South China Sea)
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