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Trump skips UN summit, hails tour

UNITED States President Donald Trump, who skipped attending the commemmorative Association of Southeast Asian Nations-United Nations Summit, left the Philippines Tuesday, amid delays over the schedule of the program of meetings, a spokesman for President Rodrigo Duterte said. 

In a text message to reporters, presidential spokesman Harry Roque said the EAS was running behind schedule and Trump “was scheduled to leave at 3 p.m. and [he] did so.” 

US Secretary of State Rex Tillerson attended Tuesday’s summit in Trump’s place. 

During the meeting, Duterte had cited the effects of migration, environmental degradation and armed conflict in the region have global repercussions, Roque said. 

These include the impact of climate change and the spread of terrorism and violent extremism.

Meanwhile, security will be beefed up along the Asean routes leading to airports as some delegates will be leaving the Philippines today following the three-day summit.

Emmanuel Miro, chairperson of the Asean Technical Working Group on Traffic Management, said the Metro Manila Development Authority also deployed additional personnel at the northbound lanes of Epifanio de los Santos Avenue to reinforce the Asean lanes.

“We again appeal for the public’s kind understanding and support for whatever inconvenience this may cause you. Please bear with us for the next few days,” said Miro.

The MMDA is one of the member agencies of the Asean Committee on Security, Peace and Order, and Emergency Preparedness and Response, which is headed by the Department of Interior and Local Government.

Among those scheduled to leave the country Wednesday are leaders and delegates from Japan, Russia, United States, Singapore, Cambodia, Myanmar, South Korea and China while some delegates from Malaysia, Vietnam and Thailand already left on Tuesday. 

As the 31st Asean Summit concluded, Task Group Manila Commander and National Capital Region Police Office director Oscar Albayalde gave assurances that security forces remained “strong and inspired” and check points had been set up to maximize security in the event’s venue.

Duterte also discussed the East Asia Summit with Asean as a mechanism by which strategic dialogues and cooperation could be established at the highest level, he added. 

According to Manila airport officials, Trump left Manila at around 3:15 p.m. via the Balagbag ramp, where most world leaders are set to depart. John Paolo Bencito and Joel Zurbano, With AFP

The US president, who began his Asian journey 12 days ago in Japan, hailed a “tremendously successful” five-nation tour of the region in which he made a lot of friends, as he ended it abruptly Tuesday by skipping most of a Philippine summit.

Trump said his trip had seen progress in his goal of narrowing America’s yawning trade deficits.

“I’ve made a lot of friends at the highest levels,” Trump told reporters shortly before boarding Air Force One in Manila, adding the trip was “tremendously successful.”

“I think the fruits... are going to be incredible,” he said.

“We’ve explained that the United States is open for trade, but reciprocal trade.”

Trump made the comments after briefly gathering with 18 other world leaders ahead of the start of the East Asia Summit, the final set piece of his trip in Asia.

Trump had initially planned to skip the summit, then backtracked after criticism he was turning his back on the region.

But he did not stay for the official start of the summit on Tuesday afternoon, also missing the preceding group photo with his fellow leaders.

Secretary of State Rex Tillerson sat in for him at the summit, which was scheduled to run into the evening.

The summit groups the 10-member Association of Southeast Asian Nations with Australia, China, India, Japan, South Korea, New Zealand and Russia, as well as the United States.

In a trip that was dominated by the North Korean nuclear crisis, Trump was treated to pomp and pageantry in Japan and South Korea, where he repeatedly blasted the regime of Kim Jong-Un.

In China, where President Xi Jinping rolled out the red carpet for a “state visit plus”—a welcome Trump declared “people really have never seen anything like”—the White House trumpeted more than $250 billion of trade deals.

Analysts say the headline figure hides a paucity of deliverables, with lots of the agreements being non-binding memorandums of understanding.

Many will take years to yield results and some will never materialise.

At a regional summit in Vietnam, Trump returned to the topic of North Korea in what aides said was part of a strategy of forging a global front to persuade Pyongyang to abandon its weapons programme.

But the issue of alleged Russian interference in his 2016 election reared its head again when Trump appeared to endorse President Vladimir Putin’s assertion that there had been no plot by Moscow.

In the Philippines, Trump sparked headlines with his pally relationship with President Rodrigo Duterte, a man who has boasted of personally killing people and whose drug war has claimed thousands of lives. John Paolo Bencito and Joel Zurbano, With AFP

 

 

Topics: President Donald Trump , Association of Southeast Asian Nations-United Nations Summit
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