Drilon conveys personal invitation of Pres. Aquino to Putin to attend APEC

October 21, 2015 5:55 am 

MOSCOW, Oct. 20 — Philippine Senate President Franklin Drilon on Tuesday (Manila time) handed to Russia's Foreign Affair Minister Sergey Lagrov the letter of President Benigno Aquino III inviting President Vladimir Putin to attend 23rd Asia Pacific Economic Conference (APEC) Economic Leaders Meeting in Manila next month.

Drilon conveyed the personal invitation of President Aquino to Putin during his meeting here with Lagrov on pressing global issues including recent developments in East Asia, the Middle East and Europe.

The Senate President stressed that President Putin will be warmly welcomed in the Philippines.

Drilon is in Russia on the invitation of Mme. Valentina I. Metvienko, Chairperson of the Federal Council, Federal Assembly of the Russian Federation.

Senate President Drilon will also deliver a speech at the Plenary Session of the Federal Council on October 21. He will be the first Filipino statesman to address the Russian Parliament.

On behalf of President Putin, Lavrov expressed deep appreciation for the invitation and said that President Putin is looking forward to visiting Manila next month.

During their discussion, the Senate President emphasized the keen interest of the Philippine Government in global peace and stability.

"We are particularly interested in Russia's foreign policy responses to crisis situations because of the presence of many Filipinos in affected areas. As a former Labor Minister, this was a matter that I had dealt with directly. Peace and stability in conflict areas is crucial for all of us," Drilon told the Russian Foreign Minister.

For his part, Lavrov said that he fully understood the position of the Philippines.

He then briefed the Senate President on Russian policies and actions in the Middle East, emphasizing "we want peace and stability in the Middle East and will work hard to achieve this We are also very open to working with everybody on this."

Pointing to record growth of the Philippine economy, the Senate President said that sound governance and the hard work and commitment of the Filipino people are behind this, and that "it is our hope that the region remains stable for the sake of all our continued economic growth."

He added that "new and old sources of tensions and potential conflicts deeply concern us."

The two officials also touched on the issue of the West Philippine Sea, with the Senate President noting that Russia is neutral on the issue of claims "but supportive of peaceful settlement in accordance with international law."

Drilon told the Russian Foreign Minister that "both countries can still work together to strengthen regional peace and stability."

Lavrov told the Senate President that Russia also wants a peaceful solution to the West Philippine Sea issue and that it particularly supports the conclusion of a legally-binding Code of Conduct in the West Philippine Sea.

Referring to bilateral relations, the Senate President said, "our efforts at the regional level should be complemented by our work at the bilateral level. This is why the Philippine is keen on deepening relations with Russia on all fronts. I believe we need not be held back by history and traditional alliances. Pragmatism and imagination should guide us instead."

To which the Russian Foreign Minister said "we are in total agreement and keen on moving forward with our bilateral relations."

They also said they looked forward to the bilateral meeting between President Aquino and President Putin at the sideline of APEC Manila next month.

Drilon said the Philippines in also interested in signing a number of pending agreements from consular protection, to humanitarian cooperation, to trade and investment enhancement, to fighting transnational crimes, including terrorism, to defense and security cooperation, among others.

Foreign Minister Lavrov said both countries should work closely together to finalize and conclude these agreements. (PNA)

RMA/JFM/PR/EBP

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