Nervous about China, Southeast Asia gets Trump's attention

U.S. Vice President Mike Pence praised Indonesia for what he called the nation's "tradition of moderate Islam" as he visited Thursday for talks with President Joko Widodo and officials from the Association of Southeast Asian Nations.

The government is confident Trump will not change his mind.

"We usually expect 100 percent attendance", Paynor told reporters, when sought for confirmation on Trump's attendance on Asean summit later this year.

"And under President Trump's leadership, the United States is already taking steps to strengthen our partnership with ASEAN and deepen our friendship", he said. "So at least, verbally, he said he was coming", he added. President Rodrigo Duterte will host nine of his ASEAN counterparts in an annual summit in Manila next week.

"The agenda and the exact time of the meeting are still being finalised".

Manila will host the 30th Asean Summit on April 26-29.

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According to Paynor, Widodo's visit will be in reciprocation to the state visit of Duterte to Indonesia last September.

Because of this, positives of our country will be highlighted.

Paynor elaborated on specific issues Duterte may discuss with Widodo. The meetings include the summit next week and the meeting between ASEAN and its dialogue partners including China, the United States and Japan later this year, 17 ministerial meetings, 42 senior officials meetings, and 76 technical working group meetings, he said. "But for the most part, these are just pleasantries and, you know, reiteration of cooperation between the two countries and stuff like that", Paynor said.

The Asean meeting will push through the central Philippine island recently rocked by a foiled attack of the extremist Abu Sayyaf group.

All 10 Asean leaders would then have the actual summit on April 29.

Department of Foreign Affairs spokesman Robespierre Bolivar said all foreign delegates to the meeting, which would focus on a free trade agreement between ASEAN and Hong Kong, have confirmed their attendance.

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