Philippines' Duterte heads to Russia in blow to US

The Philippines delegation led by Duterte is on a four-day visit to Russian Federation to discuss deals on security, military cooperation, trade, technology and tourism.

Reiterating his "firm resolve to broaden the horizons for friendship", Duterte highlighted Russia's "geographic footprint" as well as its "strategic interest in the (Asia Pacific) region" as reasons for extending cooperation between the two countries.

Trade Secretary Ramon Lopez said the Philippines would not leave the tariff-free trade arrangement with the bloc although the trade incentive came with its own set of conditions.

PRESIDENT Rodrigo Duterte clarified Tuesday that the Philippines harbors no ill-feelings towards its long-time ally, the United States (US), while pursuing close cooperation with China and Russian Federation.

To create more awareness, the Philippines will also hold a business forum where the government will present the country's trade and investment opportunities for Russian businessmen.

He added: "I will not contradict the President's words".

President Duterte on Monday said Russia will no longer be at "margins of the Philippine" diplomacy as he and Russian leaders are set to chart the future direction of the Philippines-Russia bilateral relations, most especially in regional and global cooperation.

"They don't want to make enemies for us or tell us who not to be friends with unlike other countries".

"There are opportunities for cooperation that can not be ignored".

I wonder if those who would want to bring him down back home aren't at this moment hatching plans to accelerate his removal, with the help of the still-powerful (and still prone-to-meddling) countries that have taken offense at Duterte's dramatic policy shift.

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Duterte and Putin first met on the sidelines of an global summit last November, when the Russian president extended an invitation to Duterte to visit Moscow.

"For those who are peace loving just like me, I don't want trouble", Duterte said.

"I don't want anything to do with the U.S. and I want them to stop telling me what to do".

"I really said it to their face".

For instance, bilateral trade in 2016 totaled only to $226 million, with the Philippines experiencing a trade deficit for exporting only $49 million worth of goods to Russian Federation.

For the first time in its 40-year relations, the two countries will also exchange defense attachés as part of freshly minted security relations, DFA Assistant Secretary Maria Cleofe Natividad said.

In October previous year, Philippine President Rodrigo Duterte was asked whether he preferred Hillary Clinton or Donald Trump in the White House. The Philippine President has yet to decide on the invitation.

"Russia has historically focused mostly on the European side so now they are expanding particularly their economic engagements on the Eastern side - the Asian side", Mr. Sorreta said.

Presidential spokesman Ernesto Abella stated on Thursday that the new order, which covers both indoor and outdoor smoking, carries a maximum penalty of four months imprisonment and a fine of 5,000 pesos ($100).

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