General meeting


CONTRARY to popular opinion, none of the world’s top diplomats, who gathered in Manila on August 2-8 to attend the 50th ASEAN Foreign Ministers’ Meeting (AMM) and Related Meetings, brought up the alleged spate of extrajudicial killings in the Philippines.

Not a single member of the Association of Southeast Asian Nations (ASEAN) has indicated an interest to be briefed on the extrajudicial killings allegedly perpetrated by the current administration, according to the Department of Foreign Affairs (DFA).

It maintained that the Philippine government remains committed to combating the drug problem jointly with the ASEAN and the international community as Manila underscored the 10-nation bloc’s position on sovereign rights and responsibility of each country to decide on the best approach to address the drug menace.

Led by DFA Secretary Alan Peter Cayetano, ASEAN foreign ministers discussed the region’s progress on ASEAN-community-building efforts and its stance on critical political and security issues, with their 17 other dialogue partners from major powers, such as the U.S., Russia, Japan, and China.

“We were able to passionately argue our national interests but, at the same time, we put first regional interest to come out as friends with solutions to our problems,” Cayetano said in his opening speech.

Among the issues discussed were the denuclearization of the Korean Peninsula, resolution of disputes in the South China Sea, violent extremism and terrorism, and transnational crimes.

“If there is a single characteristic that makes our community truly unique and admirable, it is the existence of the peaceful settlement of regional disputes and on regional cooperation as the best, if not the surest means of achieving peace,” Cayetano added.

It was U.S. Secretary of State Rex Tillerson’s first time in the Philippines as he represented Washington during the ASEAN meetings. During his courtesy call at Malacañang Palace, Tillerson met with Pres. Rodrigo Duterte to discuss the PH-U.S. alliance and their shared goals in addressing global terrorism threats and economic cooperation.

In return, Duterte thanked the United States for its assistance as he called himself its “humble friend” in Southeast Asia. The president also emphasized that there were no talks on human rights concerns during his meeting with Tillerson.

Despite obstacles set by conflicts among nations, ASEAN and its dialogue partners are moving forward to pursue higher goals.

Now in its 50th year,  the ASEAN community is sure to meet its vision of becoming an alliance that has withstood the test of time, assuring regional peace and stability for its people. (AJPress)

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