Russia working on Putin’s first visit to PH

By Eimor Santos, CNN Philippines

Russian leader Vladimir Putin has accepted President Rodrigo Duterte’s invitation for him to come to the Philippines, the transcontinental country’s ambassador said Saturday.

“We’ll do our best to arrange this visit as soon as possible,” Russian Ambassador to the Philippines Igor Khovaev said in a news forum in Quezon City.

“It’s a dream of mine as ambassador to welcome President Putin here,” he said, adding he could not disclose details yet.

If things go as planned, this would be Putin’s first visit to Manila after Duterte’s two trips to Moscow.

Duterte’s first official visit to Russia was cut short in 2017 as terrorists attacked Marawi City. He then invited Putin to Manila.

Duterte returned to Russia this October for a five-day official visit that resulted in 10 business agreements estimated worth around $12.57 million or roughly ₱650 million. These cover a wide range of areas, including an “intention to jointly explore the prospects of cooperation in the construction of nuclear power plants.”

Upon his return from the visit, however, Duterte said the agreement may be unconstitutional and he has to consult the Cabinet to see if anything in the deal would need the consent of Congress. The Constitution does not ban the use of nuclear energy, but it “adopts and pursues a policy of freedom from nuclear weapons in its territory.”

Khovaev on Saturday said Russia understands that the use of nuclear energy is a “very sensitive issue,” but stressed that its Rosatom State Atomic Energy Corporation is ready to help and assist the Philippines.

“It’s up to you Filipinos to decide and we’ll respect any decision taken by our Filipino partners,” he said.

The Philippines’ first and only nuclear power station, the Bataan Nuclear Power Plant, was mothballed over corruption and safety issues, compounded by fears that followed the Chernobyl disaster in 1986. Rosatom has offered to build floating nuclear power plants in the country.

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