RP to prepare regional plan

SINGAPORE — The Philippines was tapped by leaders of Southeast Asia and the United States to prepare a new five-year cooperation plan covering trade, labor mobility, cultural exchange and others following their first-ever meeting yesterday.

The move reflected Washington’s policy shift toward a more active involvement in the region, marked by a decision to engage members of the Association of Southeast Asian Nations (ASEAN) without treating countries like Myanmar as outcasts.

A statement was issued following the first meeting between a US president and heads of all 10 ASEAN countries, calling for “broader and deeper” cooperation and enhanced economic cooperation, particularly in easing customs procedures. They agreed to hold a second meeting next year.

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