President Rodrigo Duterte is set to travel this September to several neighboring countries and states, which are members of the Association of Southeast Asian Nations (ASEAN).
Presidential Communications Office Secretary Martin Andanar said that Duterte is set to fly to Brunei Darussalam on Sept. 4 up to 5th before proceeding to join the 28th and 29th ASEAN Summits in Vientiane, Laos.
Duterte’s visit to Laos will be the President’s first ever overseas visit as president following his inauguration on June 30.
Duterte had earlier elected to skip the Asia-Europe Meeting in Mongolia due to domestic concerns as he was represented by Foreign Affairs Secretary Perfecto Yasay.
Duterte’s interactions in Laos will include the usual set of ASEAN-related meetings, which will cover a range of political-security, economic and socio-cultural issues. The South China Sea issue will be watched most closely by outside observers.
Duterte will also have the opportunity to have several bilateral meetings with other major countries present, which will include Australia, China, India, Japan, New Zealand, Russia, South Korea, and the United States.
The Philippines is set to chair ASEAN next year, and the chairmanship will be officially handed over from Laos to the Philippines in line with the regional grouping’s system of annually rotating chairs.
Beyond visiting Laos, Yasay added that Duterte was eyeing other “working visits” to ASEAN countries after the summit. This would be in line with the traditional practice of new Southeast Asian leaders paying initial visits to neighboring states.
The President is also set to fly to Indonesia afterwards before his November stint at the Asia-Pacific Economic Cooperation (APEC) Summit in Lima, Peru slated on Nov. 19 to 20.
Later on, the President is proceeding to California to hold dialogues with the Filipino community there.