MEMBERS of the Association of Southeast Asian Nations (ASEAN) strive to build a community of countries united by a shared history, values and aspirations, according to Philippine President Rodrigo Duterte.
Duterte outlined the regional group’s thrust Sunday as he hosted a gala dinner for ASEAN leaders and their dialogue partners at the SMX Convention Center in Pasay City.
“It is my pleasure to welcome you all to Manila for the 31st ASEAN Summit and Related Summits,” President Duterte said as he welcomed the 20 world leaders attending the 31st ASEAN Summit and Related Meetings in the country.
“I am deeply honored to host this rare occasion where a number of world leaders are gathered in celebration of the 50th anniversary of ASEAN,” he said.
In attendance were US President Donald Trump, China’s Premier Li Keqiang, Russian Prime Minister Dmitry Medvedev, Japanese Prime Minister Shinzo Abe, Canadian Prime Minister Justin Trudeau, Brunei’s Sultan Hassanal Bolkiah and Australian Prime Minister Malcolm Turnbull.
Also present were Indonesian President Joko Widodo, Laos Prime Minister Thongloun Sisoulith, Myanmar State Counsellor Aung San Suu Kyi, Singapore’s Prime Minister Lee Hsien Loong, Thailand Prime Minister Prayut Chan-o-cha, and European Council President Donald Tusk.
Likewise, Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi, Malaysian Prime Minister Najib Razak, New Zealand Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern, South Korea President Moon Jae-in, Vietnam Prime Minister Nguyen Xuan Phuc, Cambodian Prime Minister Hun Sen and United Nations Secretary General Antonio Guterres honoured with their presence the gala event.
President Duterte said he hosted the celebration to commemorate the achievements of ASEAN over the past 50 years.
“Throughout our Chairmanship of ASEAN in 2017, the Philippines 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,” he said.
“Beyond our regional borders, we, as ASEAN citizens, are steadfast in building an ASEAN Community that is united by [our] 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 added.
“ASEAN countries continue to engage the world. From its founding, we have established 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 further said.
The Chief Executive said he is looking forward to have constructive and substantive discussions with the leaders in their upcoming meetings.
He then offered a toast for the “unity, centrality, solidarity and continued success of ASEAN”. During the gala, the guests were serenaded by popular local singers including Lani Misalucha, Jed Madela, Jonalyn Viray, Darren Espanto, among others.
World leaders and special guests feasted on Filipino cuisine such as ensaladang ubod at alugbati (heart of palm and malabar spinach salad), sinigang na maya-maya sa miso (soured red snapper in miso broth), bistek sushi (filipino steak sushi), charcoal grilled apahap fillet with tomato-mango sambal and budin (Filipino caramel flan).
— PND/ rw: jhd