Duterte eyes 'best of friends' status between Philippines and Russia

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Metro Manila (CNN Philippines) — President Rodrigo Duterte pursues his independent foreign policy, this time, by hoping to make good on his claim to establish stronger ties with Russia.

Duterte on Tuesday said he expects to meet with Russian President Vladimir Putin in a bilateral meeting on the sidelines of the Asia Pacific Cooperation (APEC) summit in Peru from November 19 to 20.

"Matuloy ho. Ako ang nanghingi niyan, ("It will push through. I requested for it.")" Duterte told reporters in a press briefing late Tuesday.

"I just want the two countries to be best of friends, and this is an economic world," Duterte said.

"If there are things we can sell them or we can export...eh, di mas maganda ("...then it's better."). If there are also things that they own or can sell to us and it can be put to good use, we can buy those things," the President added.

Read: Duterte to attend APEC summit in Peru 'for now'

Trade between the Philippines and Russia is small at just one billion dollars in 2014. Earlier this month, Duterte hinted at looking to Russia as a source of firearms.

The President said he discussed a possible meeting with Putin when Russian ambassador to the Philippines Igor Khovaev came to present his credentials on Tuesday.

"I reiterated my desire to meet Putin, bilateral," Duterte said.

Duterte said that he will not raise any particular issue with Putin. He just wants to be friends with the Russian strongman.

The President said he is excited to meet Putin, who he has previously referred to tongue-in-cheek as his "favorite hero."

Watch: What is APEC?

The two countries have mutual agreements to establish a joint commission on trade and economic cooperation and a memorandum to cooperate in "combating new psychoactive substances," says the Department of Foreign Affairs website.

Aside from Russia, the foreign affairs department said Duterte will hold bilateral meetings with three other countries which it did not specify.

The President will use APEC as an opportunity to explain his policies to other leaders, said foreign affairs Senior Special Assistant for Economic Affairs Leo Herrera-Lim.

Twenty-three leaders of APEC member nations, including U.S. President Barack Obama and Chinese President Xi Jinping, are expected to attend the summit.

Duterte departs for Peru from Davao on Thursday, making a stopover in New Zealand.

CNN Philippines' Ina Andolong and Triciah Terada contributed to this report.