31st ASEAN Summit officially opens

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Metro Manila (CNN Philippines, November 13) — President Rodrigo Duterte formally opened the 31st Association of Southeast Asian Nations (ASEAN) Summit on Monday, setting the tone by mentioning the Marawi crisis in his opening speech to highlight security concerns in the region.

“I only want to emphasize that our meetings for the next two days present an excellent opportunity for us to engage meaningful discussion on matters of regional and international importance... Terrorism and violent extremism endanger the peace and security... because these threats know no boundaries,” he said at the opening ceremony at the Cultural Center of the Philippines.

“Piracy and armed robbery… distract the stability of both regional and global commerce. The menace of illegal drugs continues to endanger the very fabric of our society. These and other issues are high on the agenda of our nation,” the President  added.

The President also thanked other countries for their support for the military operation and rehabilitation of Marawi, which endured five months of fighting between government troops and terrorists belonging to the ISIS-inspired Maute group..

“We thank our international partners for providing assistance in dealing with the situation in Marawi. Our ASEAN brothers provided support by sending relief items for the benefit of internally displaced persons while others provided valuable assistance and bolstered our military campaign,” said Duterte.

The summit, chaired by the Philippines,  gathers the 10 ASEAN leaders to discuss hot topics like the threat of nuclear war in the Korean Peninsula, the spread of extremism in the region, and the territorial dispute in South China Sea, among others.

READ: 31st ASEAN Summit to tackle North Korea, South China Sea, terrorism

The regional leaders’ Interface with the ASEAN Business Advisory Council follows at 12:00 noon at  the Philippine International Convention Center.

In the afternoon, ASEAN will hold separate summits with its dialogue partners, the United States, China, Japan, and South Korea.  A summit with India is scheduled for Tuesday.

Leaders of the ASEAN Plus Three -- which includes China, Japan, and South Korea -- are also expected to meet with the East Asia Business Council. Activities in the evening include the 9th Japan-Mekong Summit -- which includes Laos, Cambodia, Myanmar, Thailand, and Vietnam -- and the meeting with  United Nations Secretary General Antonio Guterres.

On Tuesday, ASEAN will have a 40th anniversary commemorative summit with the European Union. It will be followed by the East Asia Summit (EAS), which is composed of ASEAN members, Australia, China, India, Japan, New Zealand, Russia, South Korea, and the United States.

The Regional Comprehensive Economic Partnership (RCEP) Summit follows.  RCEP is a proposed free trade agreement among ASEAN, Australia, China, India, Japan, South Korea and New Zealand.

Leaders are also set to sign the ASEAN Consensus on the Protection and Promotion of Rights of Migrant Workers on Tuesday evening.

The summits close with a ceremony where the Philippines turns over the ASEAN chairmanship to Singapore, which will host the 2018 summits and meetings of the regional bloc.