Palace says Duterte, Xi to meet online April 8, but gives no details

Malacañang confirmed that outgoing President Rodrigo Duterte would have a talk online with his Chinese counterpart Xi Jinping, but said it was still in the preparatory stage.

THROWBACK PHOTO. China’s President Xi Jinping and President Rodrigo Duterte toast during a state banquet at the Malacañan Palace on Nov. 20, 2018. The two leaders are set to meet virtually on April 8.

Acting Deputy presidential spokesperson Kris Ablan made the statement after Duterte said Thursday evening that Xi, who initiated the talk, had expressed his intention for the virtual meeting.

“The meeting would not be face-to-face. What we know is it will be held online on April 8,” Ablan said in a press briefing.

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“Insofar as we’re concerned, this meeting is still in the preparatory stage,” Ablan added.

However, the Palace official did not provide details about what Duterte and Xi might discuss.

Duterte earlier revealed he was scheduled to talk to Xi this month as he admitted being worried about a possible spillover of the conflict between Ukraine and Russia to the Philippines.

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“There would be serious trouble if the Ukraine crisis escalates into a nuclear war. China will not just sit idly there, it will respond and it will seize Taiwan,” the President said.

“The problem is, the Philippines would also be affected if there’s a full-scale war because there are Americans here,” Duterte added.

Duterte said he would not take sides, saying “I’m not taking sides. I just don’t want [a] war to enter my country.”

“President Xi and I will talk because… perhaps… so I can say that the Philippines might really be included in the vortex of war here,” he said.

“If Russia is hit with a nuclear weapon or if it strikes first, then there’s going to be serious trouble, and China will not just sit idly there,” he added.

The President said the Philippines would undoubtedly be affected by a “full-scale war” because of the presence of American forces in the country.

Despite this, Duterte reiterated that he would not allow the country’s soldiers to participate in the conflict between Ukraine and Russia.

Meanwhile, Malacañang said Duterte might serve as a peacemaker between Russia and Ukraine, should world leaders ask for his help, considering the Philippines’ “neutral position and constitutionally-mandated foreign policy of peace with all nations.”

The Philippines is one of the nations that voted for the United Nations General Assembly Resolution on the scale of humanitarian woes caused by Russia’s invasion of Ukraine.

The UNGA resolution calls on all parties to provide full protection for civilians fleeing armed conflict and violence and ensure safe access for humanitarian aid among those who are in Ukraine and neighboring countries.

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