Duterte meets ‘hero’ Putin

The Myanmar Times - - World -

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

Mr Duterte, who has 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 foul­mouthed Mr 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,” Mr Duterte told Mr 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. 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 when there was none.”

Mr 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”, Mr Duterte told Mr Putin in a video shot by the Philip­pine pres­i­den­tial palace broad­cast team.

“These are the things I see which is not a good idea,” Mr Duterte said.

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.”

Mr Duterte, who has cul­ti­vated an im­age as a no-non­sense leader, said last month that “my favourite hero is Putin”.

He has also said that he and Mr Putin seem to share a pas­sion for guns and women. –

Photo: AFP

Philip­pine Pres­i­dent Ro­drigo Duterte (cen­tre) ar­rives at a ho­tel to at­tend a bi­lat­eral meet­ing with Rus­sian Pres­i­dent Vladimir Putin on the side­lines of the Asia-Pa­cific Eco­nomic Co­op­er­a­tion Sum­mit (APEC) in Lima on Novem­ber 19.

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