The Daily Manila Shimbun


Duterte’s trip to Russia timely – envoy

May 23, 2017

President Rodrigo Duterte's official trip to Russia is timely as Russia is shifting its interest to Asia, the Philippines’ envoy in Moscow said on Tuesday. "Timing is pretty good. Philippine pivot meets Russian rebalance. Again, in coincidence ends meeting up with Russia's rebalance to Asia and that's I think the time is great and we should take advantage of that," said Philippine Ambassador to Russia Carlos Sorreta in a televised press briefing from Moscow where Duterte is on a four-day official visit upon the invitation of Russian President Vladimir Putin. Historically, he said Russia focused mostly on the European side, while it has started cooperation with East Asia, such as China, South Korea and Japan. "They're focusing now also on Southeast Asia," Sorreta said, noting Russia's interest was purely economic and cultural and not really about competing with existing military powers. Sorreta said the Philippines could export more agricultural products to Russia, such as mangoes, bananas and coconuts. Duterte earlier said his government wanted to acquire precision-guided weapons from Russia to be used against terrorists and other enemies of the state. The Philippines and Russia are set to sign agreements related to defense, military, trade, energy and politics. Sorreta said that Russia fits in the Duterte administration's independent foreign policy because it does not interfere with other sovereign states. "There are a lot of benefits in having a good relationship with a large country and a powerful country like Russia, our neighbors in ASEAN all have wonderful relations with Russia. Also, they have good relations with the other countries. I think that’s the kind of independent foreign policy we're trying to achieve," he said. (Celerina Monte/DMS)