Duterte narrates how he became ‘fast friends’ with Putin
LIMA, Peru—President Duterte hit it off with Russian President Vladimir Putin when they first met on the sidelines of the Asia-Pacific Economic Cooperation (Apec) summit here on Saturday.
Sounding like a starstruck schoolboy who just met his idol, Mr. Duterte gushed about his initial interaction with the former KGB colonel.
“It was like we have known each other for a long time and even [by] the way we pat each other’s hand in a handshake,” Mr. Duterte told reporters.
He said that at one of the side events with the Apec leaders, he was having a conversation with a Vietnamese official who thanked him for the release of Vietnamese fishermen who were apprehended in Philippine waters.
“When I finally sat down, I found out that President Putin was on my left side, so we shook hands,” he said.
“And then after I shook his hand again and I finally said ‘I [will] go ahead.’ He told to me, ‘Don’t forget to visit Russia,’” he said.
Like with Chinese President Xi Jinping, the only other leader he had a bilateral meeting with, he said he had become “fast friends” with the Russian president.
He joked that the moment Putin entered the room, the Russian leader went up to him and told him, ‘Buddy, don’t tell the Philippine media about this, but [in stage whisper] don’t mind America.”
“It’s like … the way … it’s something that you feel. Because his laugh is big. He has a big laugh. His laugh is big,” he said.
Mr. Duterte said his impression of Putin was different from what he had read about the Russian strongman.
“The news says that he never laughs. But he was smiling all along. He said, ‘Don’t forget to visit Russia because I have something for you there… I reserved something for you.’ ‘Really?’ I said. ‘Gun,’ he said. He’s obsessed with guns,” Mr. Duterte said.
He said that like him, Putin had a passion for hunting big game like moose.
“That’s as big as [actually bigger than] a carabao,” he said.
He said he would visit Russia “someday,” but not during winter.
“I cannot stand the cold,” he said.
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