World

Trump walks back on threat to skip Asean summit in Manila

WASHINGTON: US President Donald Trump has backed away from a threat to skip a summit with Asean leaders in the Philippines later this year, with the White House now saying he will attend.

In a statement yesterday, the White House said that Mr Trump will visit Manila as part of a bumper Nov 3-14 tour that will also include stops in China, Japan, South Korea, Vietnam and the US state of Hawaii.

The announcement sets up the likelihood that Mr Trump will meet firebrand Filipino President Rodrigo Duterte.

During a visit to Asean's Jakarta headquarters in April, Vice-President Mike Pence had promised allies - anxious about waning US engagement in the region - that Mr Trump would attend the bloc's summit in Manila this November.

But Mr Trump's souring bromance with host, Mr Duterte, and a range of other issues had briefly thrown a spanner into those plans.

Mr Trump said earlier this month that Mr Duterte had extended an invitation, but that he had not yet decided whether to accept.

"He invited us so we're going to see," Mr Trump said, while announcing he would go to Japan, South Korea, China and, maybe, Vietnam for a regional economic summit.

Philippine officials were surprised by the about-turn and the issue was raised during foreign minister Alan Peter Cayetano's visit to Washington on Wednesday. - AFP

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