Duterte to visit Myanmar and Thailand for stronger ASEAN relations

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Metro Manila (CNN Philippines) — President Rodrigo Duterte will go on official visits to Myanmar and Thailand in the next few days.

Foreign Affairs Spokesperson Charles Jose said this trip will be the remaining leg of the President's introductory visits to members of the Association of Southeast Asian Nations (ASEAN).

This will be the first of the President's foreign trips this year.

Duterte's visit to Myanmar on March 19 and 20 is upon the invitation of President Htin Kyaw, who was inducted in 2016.

He will also meet with Myanmar's State Counsellor and Foreign Minister Aung San Suu Kyi.

The President will then proceed to Thailand until March 22.

He is scheduled to have a bilateral meeting with Thai Prime Minister Prayut Chan-o-Cha.

His last visit to Thailand was on November 9, 2016, when Duterte paid his respects to the late Thai King Bhumibol Adulyadej.

For this upcoming visit, the President will not meet King Vajiralongkorn Bodindradebayavarangkun.

"During these occasions, the President makes it a point to uprise our countrymen about his administration's priority programs and developments in the Philippines," Jose said.

Myanmar is home to 1,800 Filipinos, while Thailand hosts 16,000 Filipinos.

Any bilateral agreements?

Jose said there will be no concrete bilateral deal during the visit to Thailand.

He said Duterte and Chan-o-Cha will discuss political, economic, and defense cooperation.

"Of course economic cooperation would include two-way trade and investment. Primarily that would include infrastructure and development cooperation," Jose explained.

The Philippines and Thailand have existing mechanisms on trade and military cooperation, namely, the Joint Trade Commission and the Joint Commission for Military Cooperation.

Thailand had said it will not be involved in the South China Sea dispute.

Jose said the agenda for the bilateral talks will be mainly on ASEAN concerns.

"If ever this will be discussed, it will be in the context of reaffirming our position especially ASEAN's position and desire primarily for the full effective implementation," Jose said.