US president Donald Trump has backed away from a threat to skip the summit with South East Asian leaders in the Philippines later this year, with the White House now saying he will attend.
In a statement Friday, the White House said that Trump will visit Manila as part of a bumper November 3-14 tour that will also include stops in China, Japan, South Korea, Vietnam and the US state of Hawaii.
The announcement sets up the likelihood that Trump will meet controversial firebrand Filipino President Rodrigo Duterte.
During a visit to ASEAN’s Jakarta headquarters in April, Vice President Mike Pence had promised allies — anxious about waning US engagement in the region — that Trump would attend the bloc’s summit in Manila this November.
But Trump’s souring bromance with host Duterte, and a range of other issues had briefly thrown those plans in the air.
Trump said earlier this month that Duterte had extended an invitation, but that he had not yet decided whether to accept.
“He invited us so we’re going to see,” Trump said, while announcing he would go to Japan, South Korea, China and, maybe, Vietnam for a regional economic summit.
Philippine officials were surprised by the about face and the issue was raised during foreign minister Alan Peter Cayetano’s visit to Washington on Wednesday.