Duterte to meet up with Putin, but not Trump, in Vietnam

PRESIDENT Rodrigo Duterte will meet Friday afternoon, November 10, with one of his two most-sought allies, Russian President Vladimir Putin, on the sidelines of the Asia-Pacific Economic Cooperation (Apec) forum in Da Nang, Vietnam.

A much-touted first face-to-face dialogue between Duterte and United States President Donald Trump, on the other hand, is not likely to happen in Vietnam.

Foreign Affairs Undersecretary Manuel Teehankee said Wednesday that the bilateral meeting with Trump was more likely to push through during the Association of Southeast Asian Nations (Asean) summit in Manila.

Teehankee, however, said Duterte and Trump would have the opportunity to interact with each other during the Apec events.

"A fuller bilateral (meeting) will be more impressive in the Asean context, where, of course, the President (Duterte) is the host country and the host chair at the gala dinner, as well as in this very important (and) first ever meeting between President Trump and President Duterte," he said.

Meanwhile, Teehankee said Duterte was expected to personally thank Putin for Russia's assistance to the Philippines since the armed conflict in Marawi City erupted on May 23. Russia recently turned over military equipment to the Philippines.

Duterte was in Russia for a week-long official visit when fighting between government forces and terrorists inspired by global terror group Islamic State broke out in Marawi City, Lanao del Sur. He cut short his trip and returned to the Philippines to address the situation.

On October 17, the President declared Marawi's liberation following the deaths of extremist leaders Isnilon Hapilon and Omar Maute, who were the frontrunners of the Marawi siege.

Six days later, Defense Secretary Delfin Lorenzana declared that the war in Marawi was over.

Teehankee said the recently-concluded Marawi conflict would be among the "important" issues that will be discussed during the meeting between Duterte and Putin.

"As you well know, the meeting (in May) was cut short. It will be an opportunity for them to resume their discussions, as well as to express thanks for the commitment and aid of Russia in the Marawi crisis," Teehankee said in an interview in Vietnam on Wednesday.

"I am sure the Marawi crisis will be one of the important topics of discussion, how to counter terrorism and radicalization," he added.

Duterte will also separately hold bilateral talks with Vietnam President Tran Dai Quang and Papua New Guinea Prime Minister Peter O'Neill on Thursday afternoon.

Vietnam is this year's Apec chairperson while Papua New Guinea will host the Apec summit next year.

"So this will be an important dialogue between the two heads of state," Teehankee said. (SunStar Philippines)
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