Duterte: Russia trip to strengthen PH independent foreign policy
Update (first posted at 4:11 p.m. May 22, 2017)
DAVAO CITY — President Duterte underscored on Monday, the significance of his state visit to Russia, calling it a “landmark trip” that would highlight and strengthen the country’s independent foreign policy to “broaden the Philippines’ horizon of friendship and cooperation with other nations.”
Mr. Duterte, who has brought along a huge delegation composed of Cabinet officials and business leaders, is expected to meet in Moscow Russian President Vladimir Putin and Prime Minister Dmitri Medvedev to discuss “ways of charting the future direction of our partnership across many areas.”
“It is a high-level delegation befitting the level of importance my government places on the writing of a new chapter of Philippines-Russia relationship,” Duterte said in his pre-departure speech at the Davao
Duterte also thanked the Russian leadership for inviting him to Moscow.
“This visit is most anticipated, having been the product of my previous meeting with (Medvedev) in Laos and with (Putin) in Peru and most recently in Beijing,” the President said.
He said his visit would seek to further boost the relationship in various areas between Moscow and Manila since “its doors of cooperation were slightly opened 40 years ago.”
“There is much room to develop mutually beneficial cooperation. There are many opportunities that need to be explored. Now we can work together to open those doors even wider,” the Chief Executive said, adding the Philippines should extend relations with non-traditional allies such as Russia that “have opportunities for cooperation that cannot be ignored.”
“Russia must cease to be at the margins of Philippine diplomacy. Over-dependence on traditional partners has limited our room to maneuver in a very dynamic international arena. This is a strategic oversight that has led to many missed opportunities for our country. I am determined to correct this,” Mr. Duterte said.
Among the Cabinet officials accompanying Duterte in his May 22-26 trip are former senator Alan Peter Cayetano in his first foreign trip as newly appointed foreign affairs secretary and Communications Assistant Secretary Margaux “Mocha” Uson.
Former senator Manuel “Manny” Villar is among the prominent business leaders who have joined the presidential trip.
In strengthening the Filipino-Russo relations, Duterte said his administration would push for a “pragmatic engagement” with the world’s second largest nation in various areas such as politics, defense, increased economic cooperation and enhanced cultural and people-to-people exchanges.
His meetings with top Kremlin officials will be aimed at “discussing ways of charting the future direction of our partnership across many areas.”
“We will exchange views on regional and international issues to determine how we can best advance our shared interests,” the President said.
With a huge delegation of business leaders in tow, Mr. Duterte said he would also like to engage Russian business leaders.
“With the Philippines’ emphasis on sustaining or economic growth we seek responsible economic partners who will become our new allies in development,” the President said.
He is also set to meet the Filipino community in the Russian capital.
The President also seeks to engage the Russian people, particularly the youth, through various events and activities “for them to know more about the Philippines and our people.”
“I will engage the Russian youth who should know that Filipinos consider Russia as friends and that we seek nothing more than a friendship of equals based on mutual respect,” he said. SFM/rga
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