MANILA – Philippine President Rodrigo Duterte met on Monday the de facto head of the Myanmar government, Aung San Suu Kyi, and donated $300,000 in aid of the Muslim minority Rohingya community, which has been the victim of an escalation of violence that has left dozens dead and thousands displaced.
The closed-doors meeting between Duterte and Aung took place at the presidential palace in Naypyidaw, the capital of Myanmar, and later opened to the press when the visiting president made his financial contribution, according to Philippine broadcaster ABS-CBN.
As she accepted the donation, the Nobel Peace Prize laureate underlined the spirit of solidarity among the Association of Southeast Asian Nations, to which both countries belong.
ASEAN is a regional bloc that also includes Brunei, Cambodia, Indonesia, Laos, Malaysia, Singapore, Thailand and Vietnam.
Malaysia, Indonesia and Thailand have already contributed humanitarian aid to those displaced in Rakhine, mainly the Rohingya people who have been the victims of sectarian violence in western Myanmar.
More than one million Rohingya people face growing discrimination by the state authorities, which do not recognize them as citizens, restrict their movement and seize their properties.
The last wave of violence, which began in October, caused some 65,000 people to flee across the border to Bangladesh.
Duterte also met Monday with Myanmar’s president, Htin Kyaw, in the presidential palace.
According to Philippine sources, Duterte, who began his visit to Myanmar on Sunday, seeks to increase bilateral cooperation, particularly in the area of trade and investment.
The Philippine president is scheduled to arrive in Bangkok late Monday for a two-day visit.