EAGER to meet with Russian leader Vladimir Putin, President Rodrigo Duterte had a change of heart and confirmed his attendance in this year’s Asia Pacific Economic Cooperation (APEC) summit in Lima, Peru.
“Matuloy ho. Ako ang nanghingi niyan,” Duterte said during a dinner he hosted for Malacañang reporters.
“Earlier tonight, I had a long talk with the ambassador of Russia. I reiterated my desire to meet Putin, bilateral,” the President said.
Duterte was referring to his meeting with Russian Ambassador to the Philippines Igor Khovaev in Malacañang.
Duterte said he intends to talk with Putin on how to improve trade relations between the Philippines and Russia.
He said that while he wants to be friends with his “favorite hero,” he also wants to take the opportunity to explore possible trade agreements with Russia.
“Wala naman akong hingiin. 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 sa kanila, mas maganda,” he said.
Duterte had earlier said he would chart an independent foreign policy and “open alliances” with China and Russia, two powers with historic rivalries with the United States, a critic of Duterte’s bloody war on illegal drugs.
It was yet to be announced later if Duterte would have a second chance to meet US President Barack Obama at the APEC.
Before going to Peru, Duterte, 72, will rest for a night in New Zealand.
The APEC Summit is scheduled on November 19 and 20.