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Locsin will represent the Philippines at the US-Asean meeting.

MANILA, Philippines — According to Philippine Ambassador to the United States Jose Manuel Romualdez, Foreign Affairs Secretary Teodoro Locsin Jr. will represent Manila at a leaders’ conference between the United States and the Association of Southeast Asian Nations (Asean) next week.

President Rodrigo Duterte has chosen not to attend because the summit falls on a date when the country will have already identified its president-elect, according to the ambassador.

“Because the summit is set for May 12, just after our elections, I completely understand why President Duterte would be unable to attend. As the President pointed out, we will almost certainly have a president-elect by then, so he was being prudent by declining to attend out of delicadeza in order to avoid making decisions or commitments at the summit that might not be consistent with the policies of our next president “In a Labor Day column for Philstar, Romualdez wrote.

“The President will be represented by Secretary Teddy Locsin,” he added.

Manila’s involvement at this special summit, according to the ambassador, is critical because the discussions are likely to cover a wide spectrum of mutual interests and concerns.

Defense and security, future pandemic response, climate change, marine cooperation, economic involvement, energy, digital technology, and developing people-to-people ties are just a few of the topics covered.

The special meeting, led by US Vice President Joe Biden, will take place in Washington, DC on May 12 and 13.

The summit would demonstrate the US commitment to serving as a “strong, reliable partner” in Southeast Asia and advancing an Indo-Pacific that is free and open, secure, connected, and resilient, according to the State Department.

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