Philip­pines’ Duterte meets ‘hero’ Putin

Kuwait Times - - INTERNATIONAL -

LIMA: Philip­pine Pres­i­dent Rodrigo Duterte on Satur­day met the man he calls his hero, Rus­sian Pres­i­dent Vladimir Putin, and un­bur­dened his gripes about US “hypocrisy,” “bul­ly­ing” and for­eign wars.

Duterte, who has pub­licly ex­pressed his ad­mi­ra­tion for the Rus­sian leader, said the Cold War had stood be­tween their two coun­tries as the Philip­pines, a for­mer US colony, was his­tor­i­cally iden­ti­fied with the West.

But that has changed now that he is pres­i­dent. Since tak­ing of­fice in June, the foul-mouthed Duterte has up­ended the Philip­pines’ his­tor­i­cal mil­i­tary al­liance with the United States, re­peat­edly say­ing he was shift­ing to­ward China and Rus­sia as he em­barks on an in­de­pen­dent for­eign pol­icy. “It was good (while) it lasted,” Duterte told Putin of what he has called his “sep­a­ra­tion” from the United States. “Of late, I see a lot of these West­ern na­tions bul­ly­ing small na­tions. And not only that, they are into so much hypocrisy,” he said dur­ing their 45-minute meet­ing on the side­lines of the Asia Pa­cific Eco­nomic Co­op­er­a­tion (APEC) sum­mit in the Peru­vian cap­i­tal Lima.

“And they seem to start a war but are afraid to go to war. That is what is wrong with Amer­ica and the oth­ers. They’ve been wag­ing wars in so many places — in Viet­nam, in Afghanistan and in Iraq for one sin­gle rea­son that there was a weapon of mass de­struc­tion, and there was none.”

Duterte also said the United States “forced” the Philip­pines to con­trib­ute sol­diers in its wars in Viet­nam and Iraq.

When Manila pulled out non­com­bat troops that were part of the US-led coali­tion against Sad­dam Hussein in Iraq in 2004 fol­low­ing threats to be­head a kid­napped Filipino worker there, Wash­ing­ton “made it hard for us,” Duterte told Putin in a video shot by the Philip­pine pres­i­den­tial palace broad­cast team. “These are the things I see which is not a good idea,” Duterte said in English. He also said the Philip­pines longed to be part of Europe. “We’ve been long­ing to be part also of-de­spite the dis­tance-we have been long­ing to be part of Europe, es­pe­cially in com­merce and trade around the world.”

Guns, women and Putin

Duterte, who has cul­ti­vated an im­age as a no-non­sense leader, said last month that “my fa­vorite hero is Putin.” He has also said that he and Putin seem to share a pas­sion for guns and women. Fa­vorite tar­gets for his abu­sive ver­bal tirades are US Pres­i­dent Barack Obama, UN chief Ban Ki-moon and the Euro­pean Union. All three have ex­pressed con­cern over Duterte’s iron-fisted pol­icy against drugs, which they said vi­o­lated hu­man rights and due process. Duterte missed the gala din­ner at the APEC sum­mit Satur­day evening, send­ing a mes­sage to the hosts that he was sick.

Stay­ing put in his ho­tel may have avoided a po­ten­tially awk­ward en­counter with Obama, who can­celled a meet­ing with him at an­other sum­mit in Septem­ber af­ter Duterte called him a “son of a whore.”

—AFP

LIMA: Philip­pine Pres­i­dent Rodrigo Duterte ar­rives at a ho­tel to at­tend a bi­lat­eral meet­ing with Rus­sia’s Pres­i­dent Vladimir Putin on the side­lines of the Asia-Pa­cific Eco­nomic Co­op­er­a­tion Sum­mit (APEC) on Satur­day.

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