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Duterte off to Moscow to mark 'new chapter' in PH-Russia ties

MANILA, Philippines – President Rodrigo Duterte is eyeing new opportunities for cooperation with Moscow as he left Manila on Monday, May 22, for his 4-day official visit to Russia. 

In his pre-departure statement at the Davao International Airport, Duterte said his visit marks a new chapter in relations between the two countries.

He stressed the importance of the Philippines working together with Russia, adding that there are opportunities for "mutually beneficial cooperation." 

"Russia must cease to be at the margins of Philippine diplomacy. Overdependence on traditional partners has limited our room to maneuver in a very dynamic international arena. This is a strategic oversight that has led to many missed opportunities for our country. I am determined to correct this," Duterte said.

During his visit, Duterte said he would push for engagement in the political security sphere, increase economic cooperation, and seek to enhance cultural and people-to-people exchanges between the two countries.

The Philippine leader also said he will discuss ways of "charting the future direction" of the Philippines' partnership with Russia in his meeting with Russian President Vladimir Putin and Russian Prime Minister Dmitry Medvedev.

Duterte is also set to meet the Filipino community and business leaders in Moscow.

The President's schedule also involves the signing of various deals, including one on defense cooperation. He is also set to be conferred his first honorary doctorate degree as president. – Rappler.com