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Duterte says he’s well enough to attend Asean-Korea summit

/ 05:18 AM November 21, 2019

President Duterte on Tuesday night said he was well enough to take part in the Asean-Republic of Korea Commemorative Summit in Busan, South Korea, from Nov. 25 to 26.

Back in the public eye after working from his Davao City home last week, the President indicated that he was looking forward to the summit of the Association of Southeast Asian Nations (Asean) and South Korea.

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“I am 74 years old. And when I decide to travel outside, it presupposes that I think I can bear it,” he said.

The President’s trip to Busan will be his second foreign trip after suffering a motorcycle fall and an episode of muscle spasm in Japan that forced him to cut his trip short in October.

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Duterte was in Japan to attend the enthronement ceremony of Emperor Naruhito.

Early this month, the President took part in the 35th Asean summit in Thailand, but skipped the last two events to catch his early-evening flight to Manila.

At a hastily called press conference on Wednesday, Duterte said he would raise key security issues at the summit that would see leaders of the 10-member Asean discuss progress on their relationship with South Korea.

“Security matters. It’s really security, and it’s obvious. It is now the equilibrium of geopolitics. You know, North Korea then the Spratly Islands. The South Koreans are also against the occupation of the South China Sea and the claim of China,” he said.

Duterte said he would also hold a bilateral meeting with South Korea President Moon Jae-in, and have “pull-aside” talks with other leaders on the sidelines of the summit, adding that “so many things [are] at stake.”

He said the government would buy two brand-new Corvettes or small warships from South Korea to boost the Philippine Navy’s patrol capabilities.

Korean Ambassador Han Dong-man meanwhile said Seoul and Manila would sign four agreements on the sidelines of the summit next week.

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At a virtual press briefing in Malacañang on Wednesday, Han said the agreements to be signed dealt with education, fisheries, social security and tourism.

The social security deal will benefit some 70,000 Filipinos in Korea, Han said.

He said that South Korea was also planning “to expand more centers (of Korean culture) in universities,” and invite more Filipino students to study there on scholarship.

The agreement on fisheries, on the other hand, seeks to tap Korean technology to develop the Philippine fisheries sector.

South Korea would seek as well to diversify the tourism destinations for Korean tourists in the Philippines, Han said.

The ambassador also gave Mr. Duterte a copy of the album of the Korean boy band BTS during his courtesy call on Monday.

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TAGS: Asean, Asean- Korea Summit, duterte, Health, Travel
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