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Trump meets allies at ASEAN

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November 13, 2017

Donald Trump is in the Philippines for ASEAN, the final leg of his lengthy Asian trip.

Leaders from across Asia have joined US President Donald Trump at an extravagant gala dinner in the Philippines' capital, a show of amity in a region fraught with tensions that have lurked behind his marathon tour of the continent.

On Sunday Philippines President Rodrigo Duterte set the tone of cordiality ahead of the two days of summit meetings he will host, suggesting that despite their differences over claims to the South China Sea, the leaders should not discuss the issue.

"We have to be friends, the other hotheads would like us to confront China and the rest of the world on so many issues," Duterte said.

"The South China Sea is better left untouched, nobody can afford to go to war. It can ill-afford a violent confrontation."

Hours earlier, during a bilateral visit to Vietnam, Trump offered to mediate in the dispute over the South China Sea, where four Southeast Asian countries and Taiwan contest China's sweeping claims to the busy waterway.

All the claimants will be at the summit, except for Taiwan.

Trump will join leaders in Manila, the last leg of a tour that has taken him to Japan, South Korea and China as well as Vietnam.

The sheer length of the trip may reassure some that, despite Trump's "America First" policy, Washington remains committed to a region China sees as its domain.

Leaders of the 10-member Association of Southeast Asian Nations (ASEAN), China, Russia, Japan, Canada, South Korea, India, Australia and New Zealand arrived one by one for a glitzy gala dinner where they were entertained by singers and dancers.

Police used water canon to prevent hundreds of protesters reaching the US embassy in Manila ahead of Trump's arrival.

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