CLARK, Pampanga — The leaders of Indonesia and Malaysia arrived in Clark, Pampanga on Sunday to attend the 31st Association of Southeast Asian Nations (ASEAN) Summit and related meetings in Manila this week.
Indonesian President Joko Widodo and his spouse, First Lady Irania Widodo, arrived at the Clark airport via presidential plane, Republik Indonesia, around 11:57 a.m.
Department of Agriculture Secretary Emmanuel Piñol was designated to welcome the Indonesian state leader.
During his recent visit to the country this April, President Widodo and President Rodrigo Duterte launched the Davao-General Santos-Bitung sea route for the Roll-On Roll-Off (RoRo) shipping network.
Duterte conducted his first state visit as president in Indonesia, where he was received by Widodo, in September last year.
Shortly after Widodo’s arrival, the plane carrying Malaysian Prime Minister Najib Razak touched the tarmac at 12:45 in the afternoon.
In the previous ASEAN Summit last April in Manila, Najib stressed the need for the bloc to cut trade barriers.
He noted that non-tariff barriers and measures in the region should be reduced by half in order to reach the USD 9.2-trillion economy by 2030, which is projected to be the fourth largest in the world.
Najib mentioned that non-tariff barriers and measures ballooned from 1,634 to 5,975 between 2000 and 2015.
Meanwhile, Singapore’s Prime Minister Lee Hsien Loong arrived a few minutes later.
Lee, who is set to host the ASEAN Summit next year, disembarked at the Clark International Airport minutes past 1:00 p.m.
Department of Public Works and Highways Secretary Mark Villar and his spouse DIWA Partylist Rep. Emmeline Aglipay-Villar greeted the Singaporean leader upon his arrival.
The Philippines will formally handover the ASEAN chairmanship to Singapore during the November summit’s closing.
Lee, the eldest son of Singapore’s first Prime Minister Lee Kuan Yew, took office as the country’s third prime minister in 2004. Filane Mikee Cervantes and Kris Crismundo/PNA-northboundasia.com