Duterte, Medvedev vow to sustain closer ties
MOSCOW — President Rodrigo Duterte and Russian Prime Minister Dmitry Medvedev on Wednesday committed to sustain the closer bilateral ties between their countries that the Philippine leader initiated since he came into office three years ago.
For his first official activity during his second visit to Russia, the President met with Medvedev in the Prime Minister’s Residence, the so-called Russian White House, in the capital.
Different White House
With the President in the expanded bilateral meeting were Foreign Secretary Teodoro Locsin Jr., Executive Secretary Salvador Medialdea, Finance Secretary Carlos Dominguez III, Labor Secretary Silvestre Bello III, Trade Secretary Ramon Lopez, Science Secretary Fortunato de la Peña, Ambassador to Russia Carlos Sorreta and House Speaker Alan Peter Cayetano.
“I’m very glad to welcome you again in Moscow, in this building. We call this building sometimes White House but this is not the same White House as in that other country… It’s a little bit bigger than the White House we both know, and better,” Medvedev told President Duterte.
In his opening statement, the President said his first visit in 2017 “set the foundation for bilateral cooperation.”
“Since then we have seen the mark of our progress in our engagement, including such strategic areas as defense and security,” he said.
The historic port call of the Philippine Navy flagship BRP Tarlac in Russia’s southern city of Vladivostok in 2018 “was unthinkable a few years back yet we did it and more firsts to follow,” the President said.
He said consultative mechanisms have been established to expound cooperation in various areas, including trade and investment, defense and security, energy, and science and technology.
“We are intent on sustaining this momentum. I am confident we’ll succeed as [there is] a strong commitment from both sides to bring our relations to even greater” heights, the President said before reporters in the Philippine media pool were escorted out of the room.
For his part, Medvedev remarked on the “best relations” between the two countries and said he looked forward to meeting President Duterte again in the expanded East Asia Summit during the Association of Southeast Asian Nations (Asean) Leaders’ Summit in Thailand later in October.
He said the developments in trade and economic relations was “positive” as bilateral trade rose to $1.2 billion last year from $600 million in the previous year, in favor of Russia.
“We are interested to continue the realization of our various projects in transport, in energy and agriculture and in various humanitarian aspects,” Medvedev said.
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