MANILA - Russian President Vladimir Putin will likely skip a meeting of Association of Southeast Asian Nations (ASEAN) leaders and their dialogue partners in the Philippines next month, a diplomat said Sunday.
World leaders are set to attend the Asia-Pacific Economic Cooperation (APEC) leaders' summit in Vietnam from November 11 to 13, before many of them meet for the Asean's East Asia Summit (EAS) in Angeles, Pampanga.
Putin attends the APEC but almost always sends Russian Prime Minister Dmitry Medvedev to represent him at the EAS, said Russian Ambassador to the Philippines Igor Khovaev.
"Don't be disappointed please, please. Our Prime Minister, Mr. Medvedev, he's number 2 in Russia," Khovaev told reporters.
"The East Asia Summits, they are usually attended by our Prime Minister; our President usually attends the APEC summits. It's a distribution of powers, of their responsibilities."
Medvedev will meet with top Philippine officials to boost trade, investment and military ties said Khovaev.
President Rodrigo Duterte has previously praised Putin in his speeches, dubbing the Russian leader his “favorite hero.”
At the sidelines of the 2016 APEC Summit in Lima, Peru, Duterte complained to Putin about the "West's hypocrisy, criticism, bullying of smaller nations, and propensity to start wars."
Duterte had said he will shift his focus on China and Russia as his relationship with the US soured over former US President Barack Obama’s criticism of his "war on drugs."
Last May, Duterte flew to Russia for an official visit, but cut short his trip after Islamic State-linked militants stormed Marawi. Last week, he declared Marawi "liberated from the terrorist influence."
With Michael Joe Delizo, ABS-CBN News