Published: Wed, May 03, 2017
Finance | By Laverne Griffith

Southeast Asian leaders meet with lawmakers


"Yes, I said I agree".

MANILA-Chinese naval goodwill visits could help reduce tensions in the disputed West Philippine Sea (WPS), a Defense official said.

He said for now he still has a tight schedule since he is bound to visit Russian Federation and also Israel in the coming months.

But in the statement issued after he hosted the Association of Southeast Asian Nations summit in Manila, Duterte merely took note of "concerns expressed by some leaders over recent developments in the area".

Philippine President Rodrigo Duterte has raised the prospects of holding joint exercises with China as Manila seems to be distancing itself from its traditional ally, the United States.

Tensions between the United States and North Korea have intensified, with the latter conducting another ballistic missile test Friday, just hours after the U.S. convened a United Nations meeting to demand more pressure on the isolated country.

China claims most of the South China Sea.

"This is part of confidence-building and goodwill and to show we are friends and that is why I welcome them", he said.

Chinese Ambassador to the Philippines Zhao Jianhua said the visit to Davao City Sunday of three Chinese navy ships will further strengthen relations between the Philippines and China.

Earlier, the host country's President, Rodrigo Duterte had also expressed his concern saying that ASEAN was anxious over the North Korean issue.

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Patron denied that China had exerted influence in the crafting of the ASEAN chairman's statement.

"Our government, in its desire to fully and quickly accommodate our aggressive northern neighbor may have left itself negotiating a perilous road with little or no room to rely on brake power and a chance to shift gears if necessary", former Philippine Foreign Secretary Albert del Rosario said.

"So the relationship between Asean and China is very important and both sides have to really work hard towards achieving that win-win relationship", Conception added.

Unlike in the draft chairman's statement provided to the members of the media Saturday, the final statement omitted sentences referring to activities in the South China Sea that may cause tension among the claimants.

The notoriously blunt Duterte said the Southeast Asia region was extremely anxious about tensions between the United States and North Korea, and said one misstep would be a "catastrophe" and Asia would be the first victim of a nuclear war. Few regional observers therefore expected much discussion of the ruling during the Philippine's chairmanship of ASEAN this year.

He called for joint efforts to halt extremism and piracy, and several times stressed the importance of non-interference in a country's affairs.

"If we don't have all of our folks together - whether they're good folks, bad folks, people we wish would do better in their country, doesn't matter, we've got to be on the same page" on North Korea, Priebus said.

Trump has wrecked Asian unity by cancelling U.S. participation in the TransPacific Partnership, the 12-nation trade pact negotiated by his predecessor, whose main if unspoken aim was to keep China out of it.

His foreign policy strategy is a stunning reversal of that of the previous administration, which had close ties with the United States and was seen by China as a nuisance.

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