Raissa Robles – Putin accepts Duterte invite, just before Manila-Beijing South China Sea oil talks. Coincidence?

  • The president is set to become the first Russian leader to make a state visit to the Philippines for more than 40 years, according to a former envoy
  • Moscow is aware of China’s entry into the Philippines, and could have its eye on some projects there, while the US is also watching developments

The timing of Moscow’s announcement over the weekend that has accepted an invitation to visit Manila has raised eyebrows, as it comes on the eve of crucial bilateral talks between and China on joint oil exploration in the South China Sea.

In a statement immediately welcomed by the Philippine presidential palace, Igor Khovaev, Russia’s ambassador to the Philippines, on Saturday told reporters Putin had accepted invitation “with gratitude”.

No date has been set for the visit, with Khovaev only saying Moscow would “do our best to arrange this meeting as soon as possible”.

A steering committee with representatives from both Manila and Beijing is set to meet this week to discuss the joint oil exploration deal. China has proposed a 60 per cent-40 per cent split in favour of the Philippines, according to Hermogenes Esperon’s national security adviser.

Neither side has clarified if the split refers to ownership or revenue, and no other details were disclosed.

After an August meeting with Duterte, Chinese President said the countries could take a “bigger step” in jointly developing oil and gas resources if they could properly handle their sovereignty dispute in the South China Sea.

Source: https://www.scmp.com/news/asia/southeast-asia/article/3035217/putin-accepts-duterte-invite-just-manila-beijing-south

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