APEC logo

MANILA, Sept 6 (Mabuhay) — President Benigno Aquino III is set to leave for Russia on Friday to attend the Asia-Pacific Economic Cooperation (APEC) Leaders’ Meeting, which he will attend from September 8 to 9, and where he would also conduct bilateral meetings with several nations.

Presidential spokesperson Edwin Lacierda gave the details of Aquino’s schedule in a Palace press briefing on Thursday.

“At 1:00 p.m., the President and his delegation will depart for Vladivostok, Russia via Philippine Airlines PR001,” Lacierda said.

“We will arrive at [Vladivostok] International Airport. And then, at 10:00 p.m. we will be arriving at the Far Eastern Federal University. That’s the schedule for the first day,” Lacierda continued.

He said the complete schedule for the second day will be announced by deputy presidential spokesperson Abigail Valte on Saturday.

Lacierda said he has not received clearance from the Department of Foreign Affairs regarding the bilateral meetings Aquino will conduct while in Russia.

However, a statement by the Presidential Communications Operations Office released shortly after the briefing said Aquino will have bilateral meetings with Singapore and Chile on Saturday before the APEC Leaders’ retreat session.

On Sunday, the last day of Aquino’s attendance, the President will have a bilateral meeting with Vietnam. China was not mentioned in the press release, but in the briefing, Lacierda said the meeting is still being worked out.

“You must remember that it is the Chinese side who asked for the bilateral talks. So we will confirm the meeting as soon as it has been ironed out by both the DFA and the Chinese Foreign Ministry,” Lacierda said.

It has earlier been reported that China and the Philippines will most likely conduct a bilateral meeting in Russia, though not at the APEC meeting itself.

China President Hu Jintao is also scheduled to attend the summit.

The relationship of the two countries has not been smooth since a standoff in April over the Panatag (Scarborough) Shoal in the West Philippine (South China) Sea.

The Spratly group of islands, also in the West Philippine Sea, has been another source of contention between the two countries.

This year’s APEC meeting began on September 2 and will end on September 9. Aquino will attend the APEC Economic Leaders’ Meeting (AELM) on the 8th and 9th.

The issues to be discussed in the meeting as set by host Russia are: trade and investment liberalization; regional economic integration; strengthening food security; establishing reliable supply chains; and intensive cooperation to foster innovative growth.

Aquino expects greater cooperation with the nations attending the meeting in terms of trade and economic relations, according to Lacierda.

“[T]his is primarily an economic summit and so that’s what we’re looking for. Our trade with the different members of the APEC and also strengthening of relations as well with member nations,” he said.

“Of course, we will always have to advance our national interest. That’s, of course, the primary concern of each and every nation and in relation to trade and economic interests,” he also said.

Lacierda said the presidential delegation will be composed of around 67 people, including Aquino.

Cabinet officials who will accompany the President are Lacierda, DFA Secretary Albert del Rosario, Transportation Secretary Manuel Roxas, Finance Secretary Cesar Purisima, Trade Secretary Gregory Domingo and Energy Secretary Rene Almendras.

Other officials who will also attend are Ambassador to Moscow Alejandro Mosquera, Presidential Protocol Chief Miguel Perez-Rubio, and DFA Undersecretary for International Economic Relations as well as APEC Secretariat Laura del Rosario. (MNS)