CLARK FIELD, Philippines – Vietnamese Prime Minister Nguyen Xuan Phuc arrived Sunday afternoon at Clark International Airport, the last ASEAN leader to arrive in the country for the 31st ASEAN Summit and Related Summits, coinciding with the 50th founding anniversary of the regional bloc.
Phuc’s plan touched down at 4:31 p.m. at the Clark International Airport, the former US military air base that the Philippines has since developed into a sprawling economic zone.
He was welcomed by National Security Adviser Hermogenes Esperon Jr.
Like all the other leaders who arrived Sunday, Phuc proceeded to Metro Manila for the main events.
In a meeting among ASEAN foreign ministers in August, Vietnam – which had strongly supported Manila’s filing of a case against China before an arbitral tribunal – had earlier urged Southeast Asian countries to take a tougher stance against Beijing’s reclamation and militarization spree in the resource-rich South China Sea.
Vietnam has just finished hosting the 2017 Asia Pacific Economic Cooperation (APEC) meeting of Economic Leaders, with most of the attendees at the ASEAN events having flown in from Da Nang.
Phuc was one of 20 leaders confirmed to attend the various summits this week in Manila — an attendance that signifies “deep and strong bonds” between the bloc and its dialogue partners, a PNA report earlier quoted an official as saying.
The Department of Foreign Affairs said earlier these leaders would cover a whole range of issues of common concern, including trade and investment facilitation, innovation, connectivity and strengthening the ASEAN community as a model of regional integration.
The heads of state and government of the ASEAN members and the regional bloc’s dialogue partners including US President Donald Trump, will be feted at a gala dinner hosted by President Rodrigo Duterte Sunday night, to mark the 50th anniversary of ASEAN.- with a report by Camille Aguinaldo, InterAksyon