After ‘nap-gate’, Duterte skips APEC summit dinner

Philippines' President Rodrigo Duterte attends the retreat session of the APEC Summit in Port Moresby, Papua New Guinea November 18, 2018. (REUTERS)
Updated 18 November 2018
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After ‘nap-gate’, Duterte skips APEC summit dinner

  • In Port Moresby, Duterte met with Filipinos on Friday night where he sought to explain his absence from summit meetings

PORT MORESBY: Philippine President Rodrigo Duterte passed on a gala dinner at a regional summit in Papua New Guinea, days after skipping key meetings in another gathering of world leaders for a “power nap.”
Duterte, who has a well-known disdain for stiff diplomatic gatherings, was a no-show Saturday night, sending his trade minister instead to pose with heads of state donning bright yellow and red Papua New Guinean shirts.
His office had initially announced that the mercurial leader was cutting short his trip to Port Moresby even before the main meetings began but on Sunday he did show up at the convention center.
“This after I loudly and naggingly insisted he stay just one day. ONE DAY, I stressed,” Philippine foreign minister Teodoro Locsin tweeted on Sunday.
The absence of the 73-year-old Duterte at diplomatic gatherings has sparked criticism and speculation of ill health, which his spokesman denied, saying the president merely lacked sleep.
Duterte has said previously that he suffers from daily migraines and ailments including Buerger’s disease, an illness that affects the veins and the arteries of the limbs, and is usually due to smoking.
On Wednesday, the Philippine leader missed four of the 11 meetings he was slated to attend and a gala dinner in Singapore, which hosted a meeting of Southeast Asian leaders.
Observers have compared him unfavorably with Malaysia’s 93-year-old Prime Minister Mahathir Mohamad, who has consistently attended summit meetings saying it was his “duty” to do so.
Commenting on his absence, Duterte said on Thursday: “What’s wrong with my nap?“
Asked about the Papua New Guinea dinner, a Philippine official told AFP Duterte “feels constrained by formalities and finds them unproductive and a slight waste of time.”
After hosting a regional meeting in the Philippines last year, an exhausted Duterte joked about canceling another Manila summit saying, “It’s true. It’s all the same. Nothing changes.”
In Port Moresby, Duterte met with Filipinos on Friday night where he sought to explain his absence from summit meetings.
He cited an invitation from Australia to have an “informal breakfast” in Singapore.
“I told my soldiers why would I attend when first of all, I do not eat breakfast. Second, it was informal,” Duterte said.
“What will they feed us there, kangaroo?“


Australia warns citizens ahead of expected Jerusalem move

Updated 11 min 21 sec ago
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Australia warns citizens ahead of expected Jerusalem move

  • Morrison is expected to stop short of actually shifting Australia’s diplomatic corps to the Holy City, amid warnings from his own officials about the cost and security implications
  • But the move still risks heightening unrest, both in Australia’s immediate neighbor Indonesia — the world’s most populous Muslim nation — and further afield

SYDNEY: Australia on Friday warned citizens to take care while traveling in neighboring Muslim-majority Indonesia, ahead of an expected but contentious move to recognize Jerusalem as Israel’s capital.
Prime Minister Scott Morrison is expected to announce — as soon as Saturday — that his government will follow US President Donald Trump’s lead and recognize the contested city as Israel’s capital.
Scores of Australians preparing to jet off to Bali and other tropical island destinations for upcoming summer holidays should “exercise a high degree of caution,” the Department of Foreign Affairs warned.
Officials in Canberra told AFP they expected the announcement to come on Saturday, the Jewish Sabbath, but cautioned that events could yet alter those plans.
Both Israel and the Palestinians claim Jerusalem as their capital. Critics say declaring Jerusalem the capital of either inflames tensions and prejudges the outcome of final status peace talks.
Trump’s decision to move the US embassy from Tel Aviv last May prompted tens of thousands of Palestinians to approach the heavily-protected Israeli border. At least 62 Palestinians were killed by Israeli fire that day.
Morrison is expected to stop short of actually shifting Australia’s diplomatic corps to the Holy City, amid warnings from his own officials about the cost and security implications.
But recognizing Jerusalem would help the embattled Australian PM — who faces the prospect of an election drubbing next year — with Jewish and conservative Christian voters and win him friends in the White House.
His supporters argue Israel has the right to choose its own capital and peace talks are dead in the water, so there is no peace to prejudge.
But the move still risks heightening unrest, both in Australia’s immediate neighbor Indonesia — the world’s most populous Muslim nation — and further afield.
The Palestinian government would press for Arab and Muslim states to “withdraw their Ambassadors” and take some “meat and wheat” style “economic boycott measures” if the move went ahead, Palestinian ambassador to Australia Izzat Abdulhadi told AFP.
Indonesia’s government, facing domestic pressure at home, had reacted angrily earlier this year, when Morrison floated the idea of both recognizing Jerusalem and moving the Australian embassy there.
The issue has put the conclusion of a bilateral trade agreement on hold.
In the meantime, Australia’s foreign ministry has moved to prepare the ground.
“Demonstrations have been held in recent weeks around the Australian Embassy in Jakarta and the Australian Consulate-General in Surabaya,” it warned in a public notice Friday.
“Protests may continue at the Embassy in Jakarta or at any of Australia’s Consulates-General in Surabaya, Bali and Makassar,” the Department of Foreign Affairs said.”Exercise a high degree of caution.”
Tensions are currently running high between Israel and the Palestinians.
At least 235 Palestinians and two Israelis have died during violence in Gaza since March, mostly in border clashes.
On Thursday the Israeli army launched raids into the Palestinian city of Ramallah after a Palestinian shot dead two Israeli soldiers at a bus stop in the occupied West Bank.
Netanyahu vowed to ‘legalize’ thousands of settlements homes considered unlawfully-built even by Israel.
In total six people were killed in the most violent 24 hours to hit the West Bank and Jerusalem in months.