Philip­pines’ Duterte to spon­sor their in­clu­sion, de­spite ge­o­graph­i­cal lo­ca­tion poser

New Straits Times - - World -


CON­TRO­VER­SIAL Philip­pine Pres­i­dent Ro­drigo Duterte yes­ter­day said he will push for the in­clu­sion of Turkey and Mon­go­lia to join Asean, dis­miss­ing con­cerns about their ge­o­graphic lo­ca­tion.

Duterte said lead­ers of Turkey and Mon­go­lia told him about their de­sire to join Asean while they were in China over the week­end for a sum­mit on a global trade in­fra­struc­ture project.

Duterte, whose na­tion holds the ro­tat­ing Asean chair­man­ship this year, held separate meet­ings with Turk­ish Pres­i­dent Re­cep Tayyip Er­do­gan and Mon­go­lian Prime Min­is­ter Jar­gal­tulga Er­denebat on the side­lines of the sum­mit.

“They want to join Asean and since I am the chair, they wanted me to spon­sor their en­try, and I said, ‘Yes, why not?’” Duterte said here.

A North At­lantic Treaty Or­gan­i­sa­tion (Nato) mem­ber bor­der­ing the Mid­dle East, Turkey strad­dles Europe and Asia. It’s ap­pli­ca­tion for mem­ber­ship of the Euro­pean Union has been bogged down for years. Mon­go­lia is a land­locked na­tion wedged be­tween China and Rus­sia.

Ge­o­graphic lo­ca­tion is the first cri­te­rion for Asean mem­ber­ship, along with recog­ni­tion by all other mem­bers.

Duterte said Myan­mar’s de facto leader Aung San Suu Kyi, who also at­tended the sum­mit in China, asked him if he had con­sid­ered ge­og­ra­phy in de­cid­ing to spon­sor Turkey and Mon­go­lia’s Asean mem­ber­ship.

Duterte, how­ever, in­sisted that the two na­tions were part of the re­gion.

“They are. I would say that they are,” Duterte said.

“Turkey seems to be am­biva­lent on whether to be a bridge of Europe and Asia or be­ing an Asian. Some­times, they say they are part of Asia. Some­times, they say they are a bridge of Asia to Europe.”

There was no re­sponse to a re­quest for comment from the Asean Sec­re­tar­iat in In­done­sia.

Coun­tries in the re­gion, like Ti­mor Leste and Pa­pua New Guinea have, for years, sought Asean mem­ber­ship but only hold ob­server sta­tus. AFP


The 5-year-old white-haired, blue-eyed albino orangutan res­cued from a vil­lage on In­done­sia’s part of Bor­neo is­land last month.

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