Trump to attend Asean, Apec summits

US Vice President Mike Pence toured the Istiqlal Mosque in Jakarta on Thursday, during his official visit to Indonesia. (Reuters photo)

US President Donald Trump will attend three summits in Asia in November, Vice President Mike Pence said in Jakarta during a visit to the headquarters of Association of Southeast Asian Nations (Asean) on Thursday.

Pence said in a statement after meeting the secretary general of Asean that Trump would attend the US-Asean summit and the East Asia summit in the Philippines, as well as the Asia Pacific Economic Cooperation (Apec) summit in Vietnam.

He said the Trump administration would work with Asean on security issues and trade and freedom of navigation in the South China Sea. China claims most of the South China Sea, but has overlapping claims with a number of Southeast Asian countries.

Pence toured Southeast Asia's largest mosque on Thursday during a visit to Indonesia, calling the Muslim-majority nation's tradition of following a moderate form of Islam "an inspiration to the world".

Pence, an evangelical Christian, has sought to use his trip to soften some of the harsher edges of rhetoric about the Muslim world used by U.S. President Donald Trump, who has frequently railed against "radical Islamic terrorism."

As leader of the world's most populous Muslim nation, Indonesian President Joko Widodo has voiced worries about Trump's immigration policy, which critics say is biased against Muslims.

Pence, standing side by side with Widodo at a news conference, said: "One of the greatest threats we face is the rise and spread of terrorism," though he did not refer to "radical Islam".

"As the largest majority-Muslim country, Indonesia's tradition of moderate Islam, frankly, is an inspiration to the world," he said.

"In your nation as in mine, religion unifies, it doesn't divide," he added.

Pence, joined by his wife and daughters, later went on a tour of Jakarta's Istiqlal mosque, posing for pictures in the massive empty courtyard and walking through the five-storey prayer hall, big enough to hold 200,000 people.

Afterwards, he met religious leaders from various faiths, including Muslims, Christians, Buddhists, Hindus and others.

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