Duterte to meet ‘favorite hero’ Putin in Singapore
SINGAPORE – President Rodrigo Duterte will meet Russian President Vladimir Putin here as regional and world leaders gather for the 33rd Association of Southeast Asian Nations (Asean) Summit in “The Lion City.”
Duterte will arrive here on Monday night while Putin is scheduled to start his state visit and attendance to the regional summit on Tuesday.
Duterte and Putin first met during the Asia-Pacific Economic Cooperation (Apec) summit in Peru on November 2016.
The two leaders last met in Russia on May 2017 but Duterte had to cut short his official visit because of a terror attack in Marawi City.
Philippine Ambassador to Singapore Joseph Del Mar Yap said Duterte and Putin might hold a bilateral meeting at the sidelines of the summit here.
“There will also be bilateral meetings with individual countries because for example the Russian President is attending, President Putin,” Yap said in an interview.
Aside from Putin, Duterte might also meet with United States Vice President Mike Pence and Chinese Premier Li Keqiang.
US President Donald Trump skipped the Asean summit to attend the World War I ceremony in Paris.
“So there will be opportunities for President Duterte to meet up with them and discuss relevant issues with them,” Yap said.
Duterte once called Putin “my favorite hero,” as he tried to cement better ties with Russia, steering away from its traditional ally, the United States.
The Philippine leader has earlier said the country would turn to Russia to procure firearms as the two countries seek to strengthen defense cooperation. /kga