MANILA – US President Donald Trump attended on Monday the opening ceremony of the Association of Southeast Asian Nations (ASEAN) summit in Manila, where he is set to discuss security issues with his fellow leaders.
Trump posed in the customary group photo and later took part in the traditional ASEAN leaders handshake, with Philippine President Rodrigo Duterte standing next to him and with whom he is scheduled to hold a bilateral meeting later on Monday.
The US president is also scheduled to meet with Australian Prime Minister Malcolm Turnbull and Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi during the day.
The ASEAN summit, which is set to conclude on Tuesday, and which is coupled with the East Asia Summit, includes bilateral and multilateral meets between the US, China, South Korea, Japan, India, the European Union, Russia, Australia, New Zealand and the United Nations.
Trump will take the opportunity to address “North Korea’s growing threat,” as he said on Sunday at the end of his state visit to Vietnam, the penultimate stop of his fourth international trip and the first in Asia, that will end in the Philippines and has also taken him to Japan, South Korea and China.
Trump is also expected to coordinate with his regional partners in the fight against the self proclaimed Islamic State, present in the southern Philippines, Malaysia and Indonesia.
His most eagerly-awaited bilateral meeting is the one he will hold with Duterte, the architect of the relentless and controversial “war on drugs” that has left more than 6,000 people dead throughout the Philippines in the last 16 months, almost 4,000 of them died at the hands of the police, according to official figures.
Several organizations have urged Trump to censure Duterte’s controversial war on drugs, but in May the US president praised its effectiveness to eliminate drug trafficking during a telephone conversation between both leaders.