PRESIDENT Rodrigo Duterte intends to meet with Russian President Vladimir Putin and discuss with him how to improve their countries’ bilateral links on the sidelines of the Asia-Pacific Economic Cooperation summit next week in Lima, Peru.
“The meeting will push through…Earlier tonight, I had a long talk with the ambassador of Russia. I reiterated my desire to meet Putin,” Duterte told reporters Tuesday night.
Duterte added that while he wanted to be friends with his “favorite hero,” he also intended to use this opportunity to explore possible economic transactions.
“I want to be friends with him. I just want the two countries to be the best of friends. This is an economic world. If there are things we can sell them or export (to them, that’s good),” he said.
The President even joked about his excitement to meet the Russian leader, saying he would seek advice from him on guns and hunting—among his interests and “spotting women.”
Duterte had long expressed his admiration for the Russian leader, whom he described as his “favorite hero.”
“And the fact that there are millions of Filipinos in your country… I cannot gamble an answer. Because either way, it would affect… they might create hostility and antagonism here. I’m better off in saying that my favorite hero is Putin,” Duterte said in an earlier interview.
Former Consul General to Los Angeles and DFA Office of International Economic Relations senior adviser Leo Herrera-Lim said the President might get two to four bilateral meetings with leaders of the Apec member economies.
“Well, we anticipate around two to four. We are still trying to find both the schedule and the timings and…these are pretty much the arranged ones,” Lim told a Palace press briefing.
Duterte is exploring the possibility of having Russia as one of the country’s top trading partners, including armaments and other equipment following his decision to pivot away from the United States.
Russia already expressed its support to the Philippines after they sought Duterte’s “wish list,” adding they are open to any cooperation with the country, with which it established diplomatic relations in 1976.