Duterte to discuss ‘independent’ PH foreign policy in Russia forum

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    PRESIDENT Duterte said he will discuss the Philippines’ “independent” foreign policy when he addresses the Valdai International Discussion Club forum, the first for a sitting Philippine president, to be held in Sochi, Russia today.

    The President is on a second visit to Russia on the invitation of Russian President Vladimir Putin. The two leaders are scheduled to hold a meeting after the Valdai Forum.

    Duterte arrived in Moscow at 3:25 a.m. on Wednesday (8:25 a.m. in Manila) and is expected to be in Sochi at 3:25 a.m. (Manila time) today.

    “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 before he left Manila Tuesday night.

    Ambassador to Russia Carlos Sorreta, in a briefing in Moscow, said this is the first time that a Philippine president will address the Valdai Forum which has the theme “The World Order Seen from the East” this year.

    “In this visit, medyo I think it’s a little different because the President is not only meeting with President Putin but he’s also the guest of President Putin sa Valdai Forum na magbigay ng kanyang views tungkol sa mundo (where he would give his views about the world), from the point of view of a Philippine president, essentially from the point of view of the east.

    He said the event also provides an opportunity for the President to share with the world what the Philippine culture is about.

    When he returns to Moscow, the President said, he would attend a cultural show featuring the Madrigal Singers and the Bayanihan Dance Group – which Sorreta said is another “something new” for a Philippine leader who is visiting Russia.

    Sorreta said he does not exactly know what Duterte would say in the Valdai Forum but the pursuit of an independent foreign policy had always been the view of the President when dealing with the world, especially when it comes to the “non-interference in the domestic affairs of a sovereign state.”

    “The eastern – our view is to respect sovereign – the sovereignty of states, their territorial integrity and their independence. This is one where we hesitate to interfere in the internal affairs of states,” he said.

    He added that the Philippines is also in a “great position” to speak about the eastern perspective in world order because of its deep ties with the west, and at the same time, because of its traditions and values that are heavily dependent on western education.

    “But then we are located in the east. Our neighbors are all east and I think the President will have a very good perspective to share from that very unique point of view,” he also said.

    Sorreta said the discussion is also important because of the growing number of Filipinos who are traveling to and working in Russia. The Department of Foreign Affairs said there are some 7,000 Filipinos working in Russia, many of them in the service sector.

    The President will meet with the members of the Filipino community in Moscow.

    Duterte kicked off his five-day official visit with a meeting with Russian Prime Minister Dmitry Medvedev on Wednesday afternoon.

    On Thursday, at the sidelines of the Valdai Forum, he is set to meet with Putin and discuss efforts to intensify cooperation in areas of security and defense, combating terrorism and violent extremism, and addressing transnational crimes.

    The meeting will be followed by the signing and exchange of key agreements on political cooperation, health, science and technology, and culture.

    A bilateral meeting with Jordanian King Abdullah II Bin Al-Hussein is also still being finalized.

    Upon his return to Moscow, the President would attend a wreath laying ceremony at the Tomb of Unknown Soldiers at the Aleksandrovaky Sad, tour the Kremlin Palace, and attend a Philippine cultural gala performance.

    Duterte will also meet Russian business leaders and academics of the Moscow Institute of International Relations University. He would also be conferred an honorary doctorate degree by the Moscow State Institute of International Relations University. He is expected to be back in Davao City by October 6.

    “The President first visited Russia in 2017 but the trip was cut short because of the attack on Marawi City led by the Maute group.