Duterte leaves for Russia

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    PRESIDENT Duterte will leave late Tuesday for a five-day official trip to Russia that will be highlighted by a bilateral meeting with Russian President Vladimir Putin and the exchange of several bilateral agreements between the two countries.

    This will be the President’s second visit to Russia. The first one, in May 2017, was cut short due to the Marawi City siege that resulted in the imposition of martial law in Mindanao.

    Martial law had been extended thrice in Mindanao and is still in effect until December 31, 2019.

    Among the delegation members accompanying Durter are the Secretaries of the Department of Foreign Affairs, Finance, Trade and Industry, and Defense.

    The two Presidents are expected to discuss the state of the bilateral relations of Manila and Moscow and how the two counties can further enhance and expand their cooperation in various areas. In the past, Duterte had recognized Russia for providing military hardware to the Philippines while it was battling the ISIS-linked Maute Group in Mindanao.

    Duterte and Putin are also expected to discuss and exchange views on regional and global developments, among others.

    This will be the fourth meeting of the two Presidents. They first met in November 2016 on the sidelines of the Asia Pacific Economic Cooperation (APEC) Summit in Peru, followed by Duterte’s visit to Russia in May 2017, and their meeting in November 2017 on the sidelines of the APEC Summit in Da Nang, Vietnam.

    After their meeting, Duterte and Putin will witness the exchange of several bilateral agreements that cover cooperation on culture, health, and basic research.

    While in Russia, Duterte will address the Plenary Session of the Valdai Forum on October 3.

    The forum, organized by top Russian think tank Valdai Discussion Club, will have the theme “The World Order Seen from the East” and will be held in Sochi.

    In Moscow, the President will attend a Philippines-Russia Business Forum to promote trade and investment opportunities between the Philippines and Russia and give lecture at the Moscow State Institute of International Relations, one of Russia’s most prestigious and leading institutions on diplomacy and international affairs.

    Duterte will also have a meeting with the Filipino community in Moscow. There are some 7,000 Filipinos in Russia, most of them engaged in the country’s service sector.

    He is expected to return to the country on October 5 and arrive early the following day in Davao.