Philippines says Trump recognised 'great job' Duterte is doing

Posted May 03, 2017

(AP Photo/Bullit Marquez). Philippine President Rodrigo Duterte addresses the media during his joint press statement with Indonesian President Joko "Jokowi" Widodo following their bilateral meeting at the Malacanang Palace in Manila, Philippines Friday.

"Kailangan magkaroon muna tayo ng framework agreement".

Branstad's statement echoed Secretary of State Tillerson's tough talk on the South China Sea during his confirmation hearing, where he suggested the USA would stop Chinese ships from accessing their artificial islands.

The Philippines is now involved in a maritime dispute with China over its interests in the South China Sea, although Duterte is attempting to forge closer ties with the country.

While the chairman's statement did mention the South China Sea the timorous set of generalities may as well not have been published at all.

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In a post to his Facebook page on Sunday, Prime Minister Hun Sen said maintaining peace and security in the region was Asean's most important role, and also highlighted its policy of noninterference in member-states' internal affairs.

Meanwhile, Prime Minister Najib also reiterated Malaysia's stand on Code of Conduct (CoC) and was optimistic that it is finalised and adopted by the end of the year.

Philippine President Rodrigo Duterte chairs the Association of Southeast Asian Nations this year.

Since taking office last June, Duterte has taken a much softer stance on China and the disputes than his predecessor.

The statement did not include calls for "self-restraint" with regards to land reclamation, according to Thayer. Although seemingly a small detail, that change represented a victory by China to shield itself from calls to comply with the arbitration decision.

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Southeast Asian leaders pose for a family photo following their retreat in the 30th ASEAN Leaders' Summit Saturday, April 29, 2017 in Manila, Philippines.

In the draft of the chairman's statement for the summit, ASEAN leaders continued to share serious concerns over recent developments and escalation of activities in the area, which may further raise tensions and erode trust and confidence in the region.

The diplomat said one of the Asean leaders during the meeting had noted the "improved" relations between China and Asean as he noted that the South China Sea dispute had been "sidelined" by the Korean Peninsula crisis which the regional bloc considers more of as an "immediate security threat". The ruling last July invalidated China's historic claims to most of the disputed waters and said Beijing violated the rights of Filipinos when Chinese coast guard ships blocked them from fishing in a disputed shoal. Shortly after being inaugurated he pulled the United States out of the Trans-Pacific Partnership (TPP), an ambitious free trade deal that was signed in October 2015 (after five years of negotiating) and had created the world's largest free trade area (covering 12 countries and 40 percent of global trade).

Singapore, which has consistently urged all claimant states to respect worldwide law and the arbitration ruling, has increased military cooperation with the US, which enjoys long-term access to the city-state's Changi port. Other ASEAN states, particularly Indonesia, Malaysia and Singapore, are also anxious about China's growing military presence in the area. "He wants to make friends, he says we are friends so why should we pick a fight?"

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