Stronger PH ties with Russia seen as Cayetano visits Moscow

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Foreign Affairs Secretary Alan Peter S. Cayetano exchanges views with academics and students at the Moscow State Institute of International Relations led by its rector Prof. Anatoly Torkunov on Monday. Secretary Cayetano is in Moscow for a two-day official visit aimed at strengthening Manila’s relations with the Russian Federation. [DFA Photo]

MOSCOW, May 16, 2018 — The Philippines is expected to further strengthen its ties with the Russian Federation during the two-day visit to Moscow of Foreign Affairs Secretary Alan Peter S. Cayetano.

“We are undertaking a working visit to Russia as part of our efforts to build on stronger and mutually beneficial ties with the Russian people,” Secretary Cayetano said.

“The visit is in line with President Duterte’s commitment towards an independent foreign policy that is centered on the needs and aspirations of the Filipino,” the Secretary added.

“We thank President Vladimir Putin and Foreign Minister Sergey Lavrov for attaching great importance to our relations and for their warm hospitality,” the Secretary said.

Among the activities lined up during Secretary Cayetano’s visit to Russia were bilateral talks with Foreign Minister Lavrov, a speaking engagement before diplomats, academics and students at the Moscow State Institute of International Relations, and a meeting with members of the Filipino community.

“I am pleased to note the significant accomplishments the past year showing that our relations with Russia have grown by leaps and bounds,” Secretary Cayetano said.

“Our revitalized ties have translated into pragmatic cooperation in the politico-security, economic and scientific, and socio-cultural spheres,” he said.

The Secretary cited, in particular, the increasing defense cooperation between the Philippines and Russia following the signing last year of the Agreement on Defense Cooperation and the Agreement on Military-technical Cooperation.

“I also note the high-level engagements between our officials which helped translate the understanding between our leaders into concrete plans and programs,” Secretary Cayetano added.

These high-level engagements include last year’s official visits to Manila of Russian Prime Minister Dmitry Medvedev, Foreign Minister Lavrov, and Defense Minister Sergey Shoygu during the Philippine chairmanship of ASEAN 2017.

Ambassador to Moscow Carlos Sorreta said the two-day working visit to Moscow marks the second time Secretary Cayetano is traveling to Russia. Chief Presidential Legal Counsel Salvador Panelo joined Secretary Cayetano this time around.

Ambassador Sorreta said it was in Moscow where Cayetano made his first overseas trip as Foreign Affairs Secretary, when he accompanied President Rodrigo Duterte for a landmark visit in May.

President Duterte had to cut the trip short after Islamic militants took over Marawi City but Secretary Cayetano stayed behind to represent him for the rest of the trip.

Ambassador Sorreta said the Philippines established diplomatic ties with Russia, then known as the Union of Soviet Socialist Republics, on June 2, 1976.

In less than two years, relations have grown at an unprecedented pace with 23 agreements, including 11 during President Duterte’s visit last year. But much more remains to be done to realize the full potential of the Philippines’ partnership with Russia, he said.

There are around 6,000 Filipinos living and working in Russia as of June 2017. [DFA]

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