Philippines President Rodrigo Duterte will visit Russia next week to meet President Vladimir Putin and strengthen ties as the outspoken Filipino leader seeks to diversify away from the island nation's longtime alliance with Washington.
Philippines Foreign Affairs Assistant Secretary Maria Cleofe Natividad said the highlight of the trip will be his May 25 meeting with Putin, who the Filipino leader has repeatedly praised.
“We believe it will mark a new chapter in the Philippines-Russia relations,” Natividad told reporters in Manila on May 19.
“We consider this visit as a landmark that will send a strong message of the Philippines’ commitment to seek new partnerships and strengthen relations with nontraditional partners such as Russia.”
Natividad said the president's visit is part of his vow to pursue an independent foreign policy by strengthening the Philippines’ ties with Russia and China, two of the strongest rivals of the United States.
But so far, Duterte has not made good on threats to cancel treaties with the United States which have permitted U.S. military bases and forces to be located within the country.
Putin extended an invitation to Duterte to visit at an Asia Pacific Economic Cooperation Summit in Peru in November.