Duterte calls for unity as he toasts leaders at Asean gala dinner

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US President Donald Trump clinks glasses with Philippine President Rodrigo Duterte at the Asean gala dinner on Sunday, Nov. 12, 2017. Beside Duterte is partner Cielito Avanceña. (Pool photo from the Malacañang Press Corps)

President Rodrigo Duterte on Sunday night shared a toast with foreign leaders as he called for unity and solidarity during the gala dinner of the Association of Southeast Asian Nations (Asean).

“I wish to offer a toast: To the unity, centrality, solidarity and continued success of ASEAN; to ASEAN’s achievements over the past 50 years; and to the success of the 31st ASEAN Summit and Related Summits,” Duterte said.

He said he was “deeply honored to host this rare occasion” during the 50th anniversary of Asean.

“Tonight, likewise President, we commemorate – presidents – the gains that Asean has achieved over the years under your leadership, the two former presidents here particularly their work and efforts towards the realization of a rules-based, people-oriented community,” he said.

The Philippines, he said, has been guided by the theme “Partnering for Change, Engaging the World,” which captures Asean’s resolve to effect positive change in the lives of our peoples and assert our position in the global economy.

Duterte said Asean members remained “united by shared history, values, and aspirations.”

“We continue to harmonize the three pillars of the Asean Community by strengthening economic integration and building a common identity, while embracing our uniqueness and diversity,” he said.

He said Asia countries continue to engage the world in establishing meaningful and constructive engagements with external partners anchored on Asean centrality

“As one of the founding members of Asean, the Philippines has witnessed and contributed to the development of ASEAN [into] the dynamic organization that it is now,” he said.

As the 31st Asean Summit starts on Monday, Duterte hoped for a “constructive” discussions with the Asean member states and dialogue partners.

“I look forward to having constructive and substantive discussions with Your Majesty and Your Excellencies in our upcoming meetings. Let us start on a positive note with tonight’s celebration of Asea’s 50 years,” he said. /atm

Check out our Asean 2017 special site for important information and latest news on the 31st Asean Summit to be held in Manila on Nov. 13-15, 2017. Visit http://inquirer.net/asean-2017.

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