14-Mar-12, 5:40 PM | Eric B. Apolonio, InterAksyon.com
MANILA, Philippines – Foreign Affairs Secretary Albert F. del Rosario met with his Russian counterpart, Foreign Minister Sergey Lavrov, in a historic bilateral meeting in Moscow on March 13.
It was the first visit by a Philippine Foreign Secretary in seven years and comes as the culmination of a year-long celebration of 35 years of Philippine-Russian relations.
The two ministers agreed to elevate the level of their bilateral relations to new heights, particularly in political-security relations; the fight against terrorism and transnational crime; trade, investment and tourism; migration; energy and culture. They agreed to craft a Joint Plan of Action to chart their future relations in the next five years.
The two ministers discussed at length issues of regional and international significance, particularly the challenges posed by maritime security in the region.
They agreed that the threats faced in this area should be approached using a rules-based regime based on transparency and diplomacy. They affirmed their commitment to ensure safety of navigation and other security issues in the Asia-Pacific region.
The Philippines considers Russia an important bilateral partner. The two countries also share similar views in the United Nations, the East Asia Summit, the ASEAN Regional Forum, the Asia-Pacific Economic Cooperation (APEC), the Asia-Europe Meeting (ASEM) and other regional groupings. These similar aspirations are based on both countries’ adherence to sovereignty, territorial integrity and the maintenance of peace and stability in the Asia-Pacific region.
The bilateral meeting was preceded by a moving wreath-laying ceremony at the Alexandrovsky Garden with the imposing Kremlin as a background.
This was followed by a working luncheon where the two Ministers exchanged further views on international developments, including the Syrian crisis and the Arab Spring phenomena.
The visit culminated with a buffet-reception hosted by Philippine Ambassador to Russia Victor G. Garcia, and attended by Russian businessmen, diplomats and leaders of the Filipino Community.
On this occasion, Secretary del Rosario challenged the businessmen to invest in the Philippines in the areas of traditional and renewable energy, tourism infrastructure, Public-Private Partnership (PPP) projects and business process outsourcing (BPOs).