Marcos expected to meet leaders of Timor-Leste, Vietnam, Laos during ASEAN Summit

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Metro Manila (CNN Philippines, May 9) — President Ferdinand Marcos Jr. is set to hold bilateral meetings with some fellow Southeast Asian leaders on the sidelines of the 42nd Association of Southeast Asian Nations (ASEAN) Summit, including officials of Timor-Leste who will join the regional talks for the first time.

In his pre-departure speech Tuesday, Marcos said he expects to discuss with leaders of Timor-Leste their country's accession to the 10-member regional bloc.

"This is the first time that Timor-Leste will join ASEAN as an observer, and I'm looking forward to a bilateral meeting with the leaders of Timor-Leste so that we can discuss their prospective membership in ASEAN,” the president said minutes before boarding his flight to Indonesia, where the May 9 to 11 summit will be held.

In November 2022, the ASEAN agreed "in principle" to admit Timor-Leste to become its 11th member. This came over a decade after the country applied for membership in 2011.

The regional group also granted Timor-Leste an observer status and allowed its participation in all ASEAN meetings.

Marcos also later confirmed he is scheduled to have bilateral meetings with Prime Minister Pham Minh Chinh of Vietnam and with Prime Minister Sonexay Siphandone of Laos.

"'Yun palang ang naka-schedule kasi kung titignan niyo 'yung schedule, medyo masikip talaga," he told reporters after his arrival in Labuan Bajo, Indonesia.

[Translation: Only those have been scheduled so far, because if you look at it, the schedule is pretty tight.]

The president said he and other ASEAN leaders will also exchange views on pressing issues of common concern during the summit, including developments in the disputed South China Sea, the political situation in Myanmar, and rivalries among major powers.

He added that he will see to it that his participation will promote the interest of the Philippines, including efforts towards economic growth, attaining food and energy security, combating transnational crimes, and protecting migrant workers in crisis situations.

On May 11, the president will take part in the 15th Brunei Darussalam-Indonesia-Malaysia-Philippines East Asian Growth Area (BIMP-EAGA) Summit.

"In these meetings, we will have the opportunity to highlight the importance of strengthening cooperation in the BIMP-EAGA sub-region to sustain its thriving economy, the strong partnership between the executive and legislative of ASEAN, the pivotal role of private sector and the youth in advancing growth and shaping the future, as well as the future direction of the ASEAN vision," Marcos said.