President Duterte leaves for 2nd trip to Russia

President Rodrigo Duterte on Tuesday night left for his second visit to Russia on the invitation of President Vladimir Putin to reaffirm ties between the two countries.

In his pre-departure statement, Duterte described his second trip to Russia as a chance to “deepen” engagement with a country that shares key “strategic interests” with the Philippines both bilaterally and in the larger Asia-Pacific region.

“This visit reaffirms the Philippines’ strong commitment to building a robust and comprehensive partnership with Russia. One that is based on shared interests, pragmatism, and mutual trust and respect,” Duterte said in his speech at the Ninoy Aquino International Airport (NAIA).

Duterte said his visit will start in Sochi where he will meet Putin to assess the state of Philippine-Russian bilateral relations.

“We will identify ways of further intensifying cooperation areas of security and defense, combating terrorism and violent extremism, and addressing transnational crimes,” Duterte said.

He said he will discuss regional and global developments that impact the Philippines and Russia “as key points of convergence of national interests” where the two countries can work together.

“We expect key agreements – including in political cooperation, health, science and technology, and culture – to be signed,” Duterte said.

On Oct. 3, Duterte will join Putin and other world leaders at the Forum of the Valdai International Discussion Club to provide his own perspective on the topic “The Dawn of the East and the World Political Order”.

“This will be an opportune occasion to articulate, to a key audience, our independent Philippine foreign policy – one that is based on respect for sovereignty and non-interference, the time-honored principles of international law,” Duterte said.

He said the “most basic principle of a rule that governs the relations between nations have been forgotten by some idiots in some parts of the world.”

Duterte said he will also meet Filipino and Russian business leaders to encourage more economic linkages and engage academics and students of the Moscow Institute of International Relations University.

He said there will be special cultural programs that will feature Filipino culture and heritage to the Russian-Filipinos in Russia. Among these are performances from the Philippine Madrigal Singers.

The President said he is also looking forward to finally meeting the members of the growing Filipino community in Moscow, which he was not able to hold in his 2017 Russian trip after it was cut short due to the brewing conflict in Marawi City.

Meanwhile, Duterte said geopolitical realities and global developments require both the Philippines and Russia to have an “agile” foreign policy.

“While it is true that we value our long-standing partners, we must also be open to engaging new ones,” Duterte said.

He said because the Philippines has placed key nations “at the margins” of foreign policy, it has failed to “fully explore the potentials of mutually beneficial cooperation.”

However, Duterte said with the Philippines’ independent foreign policy, he could expect “new and promising times.”

“With hard work from both the Philippines and Russia, we can begin realizing the benefits of a partnership more than four decades in the making,” Duterte said.

Earlier, Foreign Affairs Teodoro Locsin Jr. said the President will go to Russia to “make up for his first state visit that was aborted within half a day of arriving by the fall of Marawi to jihadis including foreign fighters.”

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