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Trump skips East Asia Summit, heads back to the US

United States President Donald Trump skipped the plenary session of the 18-nation East Asia Summit (EAS), a top regional dialogue, in Manila and hastily concluded his five-nation, 12-day swing of Asia, declaring it  “a tremendously successful trip.”

Trump said his trip had resulted in “at least $300 billion, possibly triple that figure, of deal agreements.” He said the US sold $300 billion worth of equipment and other things.

He said he had made a lot of progress regarding renewing US relationship with its allies as the Asian enabled him to meet new friends and at the highest level of foreign governments.

“I’ve made a lot of friends at the highest level,” he said before boarding Air Force One at the Ninoy Aquino International Airport on his way back to the US.

“It’s also been really good in terms of North Korea, getting everybody together. China has been excellent. Japan and South Korea have been excellent. I think that’s a very important part of the trip,” he said.

Trump noted that US relationship with the Philippines had been “horrible, but added this had been corrected by his attendance at the EAS and ASEAN summit here.

“Now, we have a very, very strong relationship with the Philippines,” he stressed, calling the Philippines as “the most prime piece of real estate from a military standpoint.”

US Secretary of State Rex Tillerson was called on to stand in for Trump at the summit.

President Duterte and US President Donald Trump share a light moment before the start of their bilateral meeting at the Philippine International Convention Center on November 13, 2017. Malacanang Photo

Trump joined leaders of the Association of Southeast Asian Nations (ASEAN) at the start of the Summit and Related Meetings. He said he wanted “reciprocal, fair trade” for the US and blamed past US administrations for allowing his country “to be taken advantage of.”

During the trip, Trump said his government rejects multi-national trade pacts, such as the Trans-Pacific Partnership, in favor of one-to-one economic agreements.

“I think the fruits of our labor are going to be incredible, whether it’s security of our nations, whether it’s security of the world or whether it’s trade. It’s really going to amount to a lot,” Trump said.#