Philippines' Duterte to skip ASEAN

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MANILA, March 5 (Xinhua) -- Philippine President Rodrigo Duterte will skip the Association of Southeast Asian Nations (ASEAN)-Australia summit this month, his spokesman said on Monday.

"The president regrets that he will be unable to attend the ASEAN-Australia summit this month. Developments at home continue to require the President's presence in the Philippines," said presidential spokesperson Harry Roque during a briefing at the Malacanang presidential palace.

He said Duterte needs to be in the country to attend the Philippine Military Academy on March 18 "as he considers this an opportunity to have a dialogue with younger military officials."

Roque said Foreign Secretary Alan Peter Cayetano will represent Duterte to the high-level meeting that will be held in Sydney.

The commemoration of the 14th anniversary of ASEAN-Australia ties is scheduled from March 16 to 18.

"The special designation will help ensure that the Philippines continues to be engaged with ASEAN and Australia in advancing shared interest in the same region," he said.