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Thai Prime Minister Prayuth Chan-ocha, Vietnamese Prime Minister Nguyen Xuan Phuc, U.S. President Donald Trump, Philippine President Rodrigo Duterte and Singaporean Prime Minister Lee Hsien Loong pose for a family photo during the ASEAN-U.S. 40th Anniversary Commemorative Summit in Manila on Nov. 13.   © Reuters

Trump's devotion to trade puts North Korea issue on hold

ASEAN meetings proving to be missed chance to secure China's commitment

SHOTARO TANI, Nikkei staff writer | China

MANILA -- The ASEAN summit is shaping up to be a missed opportunity for participating nations to strengthen their unity against North Korea, as U.S. President Donald Trump's push for "reciprocal" trade with the region puts the issue on the back burner.

"We celebrate your incredible success, and we also seek economic partnerships on the basis of fairness and reciprocity," Trump told leaders of the Association of Southeast Asian Nations at the start of their summit Monday. The U.S. had an $83.3 billion deficit in trade of goods in 2016 against the bloc, and the former business tycoon's remarks let the ASEAN leaders know that his focus was on rectifying trade imbalances.

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