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By Roy Mabasa

United States President Donald J. Trump will have three major issues to discuss with his counterparts during the Association of Southeast Asian Nations (ASEAN) Summit in Manila on November 12 to 13, namely the denuclearization of North Korea, the South China Sea (SCS) and the fight against terrorism.

This was spelled out by Patrick Murphy, US State Department’s deputy assistant secretary for Southeast Asia, during a forum at the Stimson Center in Washington, DC yesterday.

Trump

“The President’s goals in his meetings in Manila is to support continued peace and prosperity in Southeast Asia and across the entire Indo-Pacific region, as we seek the denuclearized Korean peninsula, respect for international law particularly in the South China Sea, and continued partnership in the fight against terrorism,” Murphy said in his opening statement at the forum which was sponsored by the US-Philippines Society.

On top of the list, Murphy said President Trump will ask ASEAN to consider whether North Korea’s actuations is in line with ASEAN’s principles of stability, peace, security and prosperity.

“Therefore, there’s a good question on the table whether the DPRK merits continued inclusion in international bodies devoted to these principles such as the ASEAN Regional Forum,” Murphy said.

On the South China Sea issue, Murphy emphasized that while the United States support a meaningful Code of Conduct (COC) negotiations, he expressed hope that it will yield results that is “legally binding, effective and consistent with international law.”

On counterterrorism, Murphy said the United States remains “deeply concerned” about growing threats of terrorism particularly related to ISIS affiliate, including in Southeast Asia.

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