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Duterte to meet 9 world leaders

President Duterte will hold bilateral talks with nine heads of states during the Association of Southeast Asian Nations Summit in Laos from September 6 to 8.

Foreign Affairs Assistant Secretary Charles Jose said Duterte is scheduled to hold one-on-one talks with the leaders of Australia, India, Japan, Laos, New Zealand, Russia, Singapore, United States, and Vietnam.

However, there will be no more bilateral talks with other world leaders because of his hectic schedule, the DFA said.

“The summit is only for three days. President Duterte has other commitments after the summit,” Jose said. The President has scheduled state visits to Indonesia and Brunei after the summit.

He declined to talk with United Nations Secretary General Ban Ki-moon over criticisms on his war on drugs.

Jose said that Duterte will not break the issue on territorial disputes in the West Philippine Sea but he is ready to answer all queries when heads of state ask him.

The senior DFA official said Duterte will promote the Philippines’ key priorities, such as a drug-free ASEAN.

Meanwhile, Duterte is prepared for his meeting with United States President Barack Obama in Laos on September 6, the DFA said.

“I think the President is prepared,” said Foreign Affairs Assistant Secretary Office of ASEAN Affairs Maria Hellen dela Vega during the pre-departure media briefing for the summit in Malacañang.

“That’s why his first statement is to ask President Obama to listen to him. So he can discuss and explain to him the problem that we face as far as the drug problem is concerned. So I think he’s prepared for it.”

Dela Vega pointed out that during Duterte’s meeting with Obama, the talking points will revolve around the results of the Association of Southeast Asian Nations Ministerial Meeting last July. (PNA and Roy C. Mabasa)

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