World

Duterte will support bid by Turkey and Mongolia to join Asean

DAVAO, THE PHILIPPINES: Philippine President Rodrigo Duterte said yesterday he would push for the inclusion of Turkey and Mongolia in Asean, dismissing concerns about their geographic location.

He said leaders of Turkey and Mongolia told him about their desire to join the group while they were in China over the weekend for a summit on a global trade infrastructure project.

Mr Duterte, whose nation holds the rotating Asean chairmanship this year, held separate meetings with Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan and Mongolian Prime Minister Jargaltulga Erdenebat on the sidelines of the summit.

"They want to join Asean and since (the Philippines is the chair) they wanted me to sponsor their entry and I said, 'Yes, why not?'" Mr Duterte told reporters in the Philippines.

Nato member Turkey straddles Europe and Asia. Its application for membership of the European Union has been bogged down for years. Mongolia is wedged between China and Russia. But Mr Duterte insisted the two were part of the region.

He added: "Turkey seems to be ambivalent on whether to be a bridge of Europe and Asia or being an Asian... Sometimes they say they are part of Asia. Sometimes they say they are a bridge of Asia to Europe." - AFP

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