EU president Tusk due for ASEAN events, but bilateral meeting with Duterte still uncertain

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DFA Spokesperson Robespierre Bolivar. HANDOUT PHOTO

MANILA – The Department of Foreign Affairs cannot confirm as yet if President Rodrigo Roa Duterte will have a bilateral meeting with European Union (EU) president Donald Tusk, who will be attending next month’s key events related to the Association of Southeast Asian Nations summit and the marking of 40 years of collaboration between ASEAN and EU.

According to DFA spokesperson Robespierre Bolivar, despite the tentative schedule, they nevertheless continue to provide President Duterte updates on matters related to EU and Philippines relations.

Tusk is slated to attend the special gala celebration for the 50th anniversary of ASEAN, the commemorative summit of ASEAN-EU and the luncheon meeting for the East Asia Summit.

The European officials’ participation is significant as the two regional blocs mark four decades of collaboration.

Bolivar noted, “It’s a milestone year between ASEAN and EU, which is the primary reason the President invited the [European] council president to Manila. This is also recognition that we have long-standing and strategic engagement [with the] European Union.”

Word on any bilateral meetings between the Philippines and the EU, however, remained hanging. It was also unclear if President Duterte would raise in any meeting with EU officials his oft-repeated complaint that their criticisms of how his war on drugs has led to the killings of thousands betrays their lack of understanding of realities in the Philippines.

Bolivar said there will be time to tackle the issues.

The DFA continues to brief the President on a wide range of concerns, particularly diplomatic issues. “We provide the information that the President needs whenever he has foreign international engagements,” said Bolivar.

Meanwhile, DFA said Canadian Prime Minister Justine Trudeau has confirmed attendance at the ASEAN-Canada summit, the gala and the East Asia Summit.

A bilateral meeting between Duterte and US President Donald Trump is also being worked out..