Philippine President absent from ASEAN meetings

Vientiane (Laos), Sep 8 (IANS) Filipino President Rodrigo Duterte did not attend any meetings at the ASEAN in Laos on Thursday, reportedly owing to a migraine, official sources reported.

Duterte sent his Foreign Secretary Perfecto Yasay to lead the Filipino delegation in ASEAN’s meetings with India and the US and in the East Asia Summit, EFE news reported.

In the ASEAN-US meet and the East Asia Summit, Duterte was scheduled to share space with Obama, for whom he used obscene remarks on Monday, which led to the suspension of a bilateral meet between the two on Tuesday.

However, during the ASEAN dinner, the two leaders were seen having a brief chat to clear the air, according to Manila, while Washington termed it as an exchange of formal pleasantries.

Before the East Asia Summit – which brings together leaders from Japan, South Korea, China, Russia, India, Australia and New Zealand – Filipino Presidential Communications Secretary Martin Andanar attributed Duterte’s absence to a headache.

The Filipino media had earlier speculated that the President’s absence was because his daughter, who was pregnant with triplets and had to undergo an unwanted abortion.

Duterte is expected to participate in the summit’s closing ceremony, during which Laos will pass on the rotational presidency to the Philippines, which will be in charge in in 2017 as ASEAN will mark its 50th anniversary then.

–IANS

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