November 18, 2017
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East Asia Summit kicks off in Manila with discussions on security, trade

Manila, Nov 14 (efe-epa).- Security and trade will be the major discussions Tuesday among the leaders of the Association of Southeast Asian Nations (ASEAN) and countries such as the United States, Russia and China at the East Asia Summit in Manila.

Among some of the leaders who will participate in the summit are US President Donald Trump, China's Prime Minister Li Keqiang, India's Prime Minister Narendra Modi, Australia's Prime Minister Malcolm Turnbull, and Japan's Prime Minister Shinzo Abe.

From Southeast Asia, among the leaders to take part in the summit are the Philippine president Rodrigo Duterte, Myanmar's de facto leader Aung San Suu Kyi and Singaporean Prime Minister Lee Hsien Loong.

It is still unknown whether the meeting will tackle the humanitarian crisis of the Muslim minority Rohingya in Myanmar, a controversial issue for Suu Kyi, the Nobel Peace Prize Laureate and former political prisoner during the military regime who has been accused of not doing enough to solve the crisis.

On Monday, Suu Kyi said at the summit with her ASEAN counterparts that she is willing to receive international aid for the Rohingya and is prepared to begin the process of repatriation of the members of this minority group who have fled to Bangladesh in recent months due to violence in Myanmar.

More than 600,000 refugees, mostly Rohingya, are in camps in Bangladesh, according to the United Nations, which has also condemned the "ethnic cleansing" operations in Myanmar.

The ASEAN member countries and other invited nations, as well as the UN, began Monday the bilateral meetings in the economy, security and the environment were addressed, among others.

Throughout Tuesday the ASEAN Plus Three meeting with China, Japan and South Korea will take place, as well as the bloc's bilateral meetings with Canada, India and the European Union.

Founded in 1967, ASEAN is made up of Myanmar, Brunei, Cambodia, the Philippines, Indonesia, Laos, Malaysia, Singapore, Thailand and Vietnam.

The bloc has 620 million inhabitants and a combined GDP of $2.55 trillion.

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