President Rodrigo Duterte will hold a bilateral meeting with South Korean leader Moon Jae-in during his “very hectic” schedule next week at the Association of Southeast Asian Nations–Republic of Korea Commemorative Summit.
The Department of Foreign Affairs said Friday that Duterte and other Asean leaders were expected to discuss with Moon their partnership and cooperation on areas of mutual concern.
The President will head to Busan, South Korea from Nov. 25 to 26 to attend the summit, which would mark his second visit to the country since he assumed office in 2016.
“There are many side events... to which the President and other Asean leaders are invited to go. So, I think the schedule is very hectic at the moment,” said Foreign Affairs Assistant Secretary Junever Mahilum-West.
The Philippine delegation includes Foreign Secretary Teodoro Locsin Jr., Trade Secretary Ramon Lopez, and Social Welfare Secretary Rolando Bautista, she said.
The three Cabinet secretaries’ presence is necessary since the DFA, the Department of Trade and Industry, and the Department of Social Welfare and Development serve as lead agencies for the ASEAN’s political and security community pillar; economic pillar; and socio-cultural community pillar, respectively.
Other Cabinet members are also expected to attend, but Malacañang has yet to release the official list of the delegation.
Duterte said early this week that he and Moon would discuss security issues concerning the regional bloc and South Korea.
“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,” Duterte told Palace reporters Tuesday.
South Korean Ambassador to the Philippines Han Dong-man said at least four cooperation agreements in the fields of social security, education, fisheries, and tourism are expected be signed after the bilateral meeting of Duterte and Moon.
Mahilum-West said these agreements were still under negotiation.
Duterte first visited South Korea in June 2018, where he drew flak for kissing a married Filipina in front of the Filipino community.
Mahilum-West said Duterte had no scheduled meeting with the Filipino community in South Korea, considering his tight schedule.
To date, there are 70,000 Filipinos working, studying, and residing in South Korea.
The 74-year-old President’s visit to Busan was arranged, despite his recent admission that his age is taking a toll on his health.
Duterte assured the public on Tuesday that he could still manage to participate in several engagements in South Korea.
“When I decided to travel outside, it presupposes that I think [I can manage],” he said. With PNA