Yasay chairs major ASEAN meeting in Boracay

BORACAY, Philippines – Philippine Foreign Secretary Perfecto Yasay Jr takes center stage on Tuesday, February 21, as he chairs the first major Association of Southeast Asian Nations (ASEAN) meeting this year.

Yasay is the host and chairman of the ASEAN Foreign Ministers' Retreat (AMM) that begins at 9 am on Tuesday at Shangri-La's Boracay Resort and Spa in Boracay, Aklan.

ASEAN foreign ministers and senior officials from 10 countries – the Philippines, Brunei, Cambodia, Indonesia, Laos, Malaysia, Myanmar, Singapore, Thailand, and Vietnam – as well as the ASEAN secretary general, Le Luong Minh, will attend the Boracay meeting.

"The ASEAN Foreign Ministers' Retreat is the first major ASEAN meeting of the year under the Philippine chairmanship of ASEAN 2017, which coincides with the 50th anniversary of the founding of ASEAN," Philippine Department of Foreign Affairs (DFA) spokesman Charles Jose said.

"During the retreat, the ASEAN foreign ministers will take stock of ASEAN's community-building and integration efforts, as well as exchange views and ideas on ASEAN's relations with its external partners, and also exchange views on regional and international issues of common interest and concern," Jose added. 

The ASEAN foreign ministers will likely discuss the South China Sea dispute and the new leadership of US President Donald Trump, among other issues.

They will also likely tackle the plan to finalize a framework code of conduct (COC) in the South China Sea by mid-2017.

The ASEAN foreign ministers' meeting was last held in Laos.

After the ASEAN foreign ministers' meeting in July 2016, Yasay became controversial after he flip-flopped on seeking ASEAN's support for the Philippines' legal victory against China over the South China Sea.

In Laos, Yasay told reporters that he "never" asked to include the South China Sea ruling in the traditional ASEAN foreign ministers' statement. 

In Manila, however, he said he "vigorously…pushed for the inclusion and mentioning of the arbitral tribunal award" in the joint communiqué. (READ: Recording shows Yasay didn't want ASEAN to cite Hague ruling) – Rappler.com

Paterno R. Esmaquel II

Paterno R. Esmaquel II is a senior reporter leading Rappler’s coverage of religion and foreign affairs. He finished MA Journalism in Ateneo and MSc Asian Studies (Religions in Plural Societies) at RSIS, Singapore. For story ideas or feedback, email him at pat.esmaquel@rappler.com.

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