Duterte off to Thailand to attend 35th ASEAN Summit

ABS-CBN News

Posted at Nov 01 2019 08:07 PM | Updated as of Nov 01 2019 11:02 PM

MANILA - President Rodrigo Duterte was set to fly to Thailand Friday to attend the 35th Association of Southeast Asian Nations (ASEAN) Summit from Nov. 2 to 4.

Duterte was invited by Thai Prime Minister Prayut Chan-o-cha, the current ASEAN chair, Malacañang said in a statement. He leaves amid continuing relief operations in his home region Mindanao, where a series of earthquakes has killed several people and destroyed homes and buildings. 

At the summit, Duterte is expected to hold talks with fellow ASEAN leaders on the South China Sea dispute with China, the statement read. 

"Other security concerns, particularly terrorism, illicit drug trafficking, and other transnational crimes will also be addressed," it said. 

One-on-one summits with China, India, the United States, Japan, and the United Nations will also be held during the three-day event to examine "the current status and future direction of dialogue partnerships" with ASEAN countries.

This will be Duterte's fourth visit to Thailand as president. 

Duterte's first visit was in November 2016 to pay his respects to the late King Bhumibol Adulyadej, the second in March 2017 for a state visit, and the third in June this year for the 34th ASEAN Summit. 

Presidential spokesman Salvador Panelo earlier said Duterte would still participate in the 35th ASEAN Summit, leaving it up to local government units to lead response efforts in Mindanao. 

Panelo said the President "deemed it appropriate" to forego a scheduled inspection since local government units in Mindanao "have so far effectively responded to the current critical situation."