The President’s Day: October 28, 2010

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Today is President Aquino’s third day in Vietnam. It marks the first day of his participation in the 17th ASEAN Summit in Hanoi.

The President was scheduled to spend the morning in two bilateral meetings, with Indonesia and Thailand, but because of the recent earthquake and tsunami that struck Indonesia, Indonesian President Susilo Bambang Yudhoyono had to go home to facilitate rescue, recovery, and rebuilding operations.

At 11:30 AM,[1] the President met with Prime Minister Abhisit Vejjajiva of Thailand. The two leaders discussed common problems of Thailand and the Philippines in terms of natural disasters and insurgencies, as well as the countries’ economic and social situations. They also discussed the global economic challenges affecting the region, particularly the situation of the local currencies in Thailand and Philippines due to the weakening US dollar.

Watch a video of their meeting courtesy of RTVM here.

At 1:45 PM, the President and other Southeast Asian leaders attended the Opening Ceremonies of the 17th ASEAN Summit at the Hanoi National Convention Center.

The ceremony started with the singing of the ASEAN anthem, then remarks by Nguyen Tan Dung, Prime Minister of Vietnam. As the event was a ceremonial one, there was no formal discussion. The leaders exchanged pleasantries and posed for photo opportunities.

The following is the list of attendees:

Sultan Haji Hassanal Bolkiah, Brunei
Prime Minister Samdech Hun Sen, Cambodia
President Choummaly Sayasone, Laos
Prime Minister Dato’ Sri Mohd Najib Bin Tun Abdul Razak, Malaysia
Prime Minister General Thein Sein, Myanmar
President Benigno S. Aquino III, Republic of the Philippines
Prime Minister Lee Hsien Loong, Singapore
Prime Minister Abhisit Vejjajiva, Kingdom of Thailand
Prime Minister Nguyen Tan Dung, Socialist Republic of Vietnam
Secretary-General Surin Pitsuwan, ASEAN

From 2:30 to 4:30 PM, still at the National Convention Center, the President participated in the ASEAN Leaders’ Retreat—a two hour session of exchanging of views and frank discussion. With Vietnam as Chair, Prime Minister Nguyen Tan Dung delivered the opening statement. Afterward, the ASEAN leaders delivered their statements.

The President was there to pursue Philippine interests and to enlist the ASEAN’s support for Philippine initiatives.

Read President Aquino’s statement.

At 4:30 PM, the President met with Myanmar Prime Minister Thein Sein. It was the first time the two leaders met. They discussed a number of topics, including the upcoming November 7 elections in Myanmar. President Aquino congratulated the Prime Minister on his government’s announcement to hold Myanmar’s first general elections in two decades.

In addition, the President expressed his support for detained Burmese activist and opposition politician Aung San Suu Kyi, and called for her release from house arrest in time for the elections.

“We have been championing the cause of Madam Aung San Suu Kyi for a very, very long time,” the President said, adding that stability in one member state in the ASEAN is integral to the stability of the ASEAN itself. [Ref.]

Afterward, the President had another bilateral meeting, this time with His Majesty Sultan Haji Hassanal Bolkiah Mu’izzadin Waddaulah of Brunei Darussalam. This was again a first meeting between the two ASEAN leaders. Brunei is a major supporter of Mindanao’s peace and development initiatives and has donated millions for projects in aid of the Philippine Muslim communities.

The President’s final event for the day was an Informal Dinner with the other ASEAN leaders held at the Thang Long Ballroom of the Melia Hotel and Convention Center.

Read the President’s day: October 27, 2010

[1] Note: Vietnam is 1 hour behind Philippine time (e.g., 9:00 AM in Vietnam is 10:00 AM in the Philippines). All time stamps herewith are in Vietnam time.

Nguyễn Tấn Dũng