Asia Asian Economy Awkward photo op: PM Lee struggles to reach

Awkward ASEAN photo op: PM Lee struggles to reach Duterte

The leaders onstage were requested to cross their arms for the traditional ASEAN handshake, but Duterte could not reach Lee

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The 34th was held in Bangkok on Sunday, June 23. During the opening ceremonies, the 10 leaders of countries lined up onstage for photos and the traditional ASEAN handshake.

According to a report from Rappler, PM Lee stood beside Philippine president but stepped aside and left a gap between the two leaders. The leaders onstage were requested to cross their arms for the handshake, but Duterte could not reach Lee.

PM Lee then gestured with his hand to Duterte to move closer, who then pulled Myanmar State Counsellor Aung San Suu Kyi and Malaysian PM Mahathir Mohamed with him.

During the 2017 ASEAN Summit in Manila, US president fumbled with his hands and struggled to grasp the right hands for the handshake, breaking the line which was intended to symbolise unity and cooperation.

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According to an initial report by the Straits Times, PM Lee also had bilateral meetings with Vietnamese PM Nguyen Xuan Phuc, Cambodian Prime Minister Hun Sen, Indonesian president Joko Widodo, and Thai PM Prayut Chan-o-cha.

The Cambodian and Vietnamese leaders have expressed dismay over PM Lee’s version of  history last month regarding how countries in the ASEAN banded together against “Vietnam’s invasion of Cambodia and the Cambodian government that replaced the Khmer Rouge.”

During the meeting in Bangkok, PM Lee addressed the issue and said, “Naturally, the two positions are different and we do not expect to change their minds, and they do not expect us to change our minds on this matter… The best way to move forward, in our view, is on the basis of candour and honesty about what has happened in the past, so that we can develop trust and we can work more closely together and trust one another.”/TISG

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