31st Asean summit begins Sunday in Manila


MANILA: The Philippines will play host to the 31st ASEAN Summit and Related Summits which begin here Sunday, with the Rohingya refugees issue, the South China SEA tussle and the rise of radicalisation and extremism expected to hog the limelight.

Leaders from the 10 ASEAN member countries and its dialogue partners, namely Australia, China, India, Japan, New Zealand, South Korea, Russia, United States, Canada, the European Union and the United Nations Secretary-General will gather here for the important summits hosted by the Philippines.

Under the theme “Partnering for Change, Engaging the World,” Philippine President Rodrigo Roa Duterte will chair the plenary session of the 31st ASEAN Summit whereby ASEAN Leaders will discuss the implementation of the ASEAN Community Vision 2025 and the way forward and the appointment of the new Secretary-General of ASEAN.

The three-day summits also coincides with the regional bloc’s 50th anniversary.

Undersecretary Enrique Manalo of the Philippine Department of Foreign Affairs chaired a meeting of ASEAN Senior Officials in Clark, Pampanga Saturday to discuss preparations for the Summits and finalising outcome documents, that are expected to include innovation, cyber crime, malnutrition and protection of the rights of ASEAN migrant workers.

The SOM Leaders also discussed preparations for the accession of Iran to the Treaty of Amity and Cooperation in Southeast Asia, a 1976 document that sets out basic principles governing interstate relations.

The Malaysian delegation will be led by Prime Minister Datuk Seri Najib Razak who is expected to arrive here Sunday after participating in the ongoing Asia-Pacific Economic Cooperation (APEC) in Danang, Vietnam.

US President Donald Trump, who had initially said will skip his first Summit with ASEAN leaders, will attend the meeting, along with Chinese Premier Li Keqiang, Japanese Prime Minister Shinzo Abe, South Korean President Moon Jae-in, Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi, Indonesian President Joko Widodo and Myanmar State Counsellor Aung San Suu Kyi.

The host, battling insurgents in the southern city of Marawi, is mobilising around 60,000 security personnel to help secure the Summits and the high profile foreign visitors.

The ASEAN leaders will also sign the ASEAN Consensus on the Protection and Promotion of the Rights of Migrant Workers, a landmark document that further seeks to strengthen social protection, access to justice, humane and fair treatment, and access to health services for the migrant workers of Southeast Asia.

Among the important events that will take place here are ASEAN’s 40th Anniversary Commemorative Summits with the USA, Canada and the European Union; 20th ASEAN Plus Three Commemorative Summit; the 20th ASEAN-China Summit, 19th ASEAN-Republic of Korea Summit; 20th ASEAN-Japan Summit; 12th East Asia Summit; 15th ASEAN-India Summit; and the 9th ASEAN-UN Summit.

Singapore will assume the chairmanship of ASEAN in 2018. — BERNAMA © New Straits Times Press (M) Bhd