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Duterte seeks deeper ties with Latin America, Africa, Central Asia

President Rodrigo Duterte on Thursday said he would seek deeper ties with countries in Latin America, Africa, and Central Asia in the last three years of his term.

Duterte made the pledge in a speech at the forum of the Valdai Discussion Club in Sochi, Russia.

“In the remaining three years of my term, we will likewise expand the horizon of Philippine diplomacy by deepening our engagement in Latin America, Africa and Central Asia,” Duterte said.

“We will strengthen our economic ties with these regions, opening new markets and with it the free exchange of ideas, technology, and innovation.”

Duterte added: “For I want the Filipino people to broaden their worldwide view, to be enriched by the cultures and intellectual traditions of the old civilizations of the Americas, Africa, Central Asia, and the Middle East.”

Duterte has yet to embark on an official or state visit to a country in Latin America, Africa, and Central Asia. The President, however, went to Peru, a Latin American nation, to attend the Asia Pacific Economic Cooperation (APEC) Summit in 2016.

This year’s APEC Summit will be held in Chile, a neighboring country of Peru, in November.

The President also said that it was “high time that the Philippines look at the Middle East with fresh eyes going beyond oil and overseas Filipino workers.”

“As one of the fastest growing economies in the world, the Philippines will assume our twin responsibility of sustaining the growth of our people, while helping other developing countries in their own [journey] to progress,” he said.

He mentioned that for years, the foreign policy of the Philippines was tailored to that of the United States.

Duterte added that while he was not against the US or the Western world, he opted to embark on an independent foreign policy by reaching out to all nations that extend their hand of friendship to the Philippines with mutual respect and without preconditions.

“The principles of respect for state sovereignty, non-intervention, and peaceful resolution of disputes must be upheld at all times, otherwise the order unravels,” he said.

Duterte is set to leave Malacañang in June 2022. His foreign policy has so far been marked with increased engagements with Russia and China, two nations with economic and military rivalries with the Philippines’ treaty ally, the US.

He had also made historic visits to Israel and Jordan.

US President Donald Trump has a standing invitation for Duterte to visit Washington but the Filipino leader said in July last year that his packed schedule and dislike for long flights were the ones preventing him from accepting the invite. — MDM, GMA News