Plane crash probe forces Putin to skip APEC: Palace

14rally2.jpg -- Lumad representatives march to Mendiola after a closed-door meeting with with Mayor Joseph Estrada at the Manila City Hall on Friday.  The lumad representatives had to strike camp Friday afternoon, after a deadline was set by the City of Manila as part of the government's preparation for the APEC summit. (MNS photo)

14rally2.jpg — Lumad representatives march to Mendiola after a closed-door meeting with with Mayor Joseph Estrada at the Manila City Hall on Friday. The lumad representatives had to strike camp Friday afternoon, after a deadline was set by the City of Manila as part of the government’s preparation for the APEC summit. (MNS photo)

MANILA, Nov 13 (Mabuhay) – Russian President Vladimir Putin has confirmed to President Benigno Aquino III that he will skip the APEC Economic Leaders’ Meeting (AELM) because of problems in his country, Malacañang said Friday.

In a press conference, deputy presidential spokesperson Abigail Valte said Putin phoned President Aquino on Thursday night to say that he is going to miss the two-day meeting next week.

“President Aquino replied that he understood fully well the issues that are confronting the Russian government, and that he also understands the need of President Putin to stay in his country to ensure that the reasons behind some of their domestic issues are fully investigated and threshed out,” said Valte.

Valte said the Russian delegation will be headed by Prime Minister Dmitry Medvedev, in the absence of Putin.

“The reasons that were discussed relative to the ongoing investigation on the Russian jetliner that had recently been downed. I say ‘downed’ because there is an ongoing investigation as to the reasons for it going down and as you know, a number of Russians suffered or perished in that crash,” Valte said.

“The President did extend his understanding on the loss of life and recognize fully well that it is a cause for concern for President Putin,” she added

One of the issues confronting the Russian government is the October 31 Russian plane crash over Egypt, which killed all 224 passengers and crew.

Quoting US sources, a Reuters report earlier said that Russian communications intercepted by US intelligence agencies showed Russia believed the plane was brought down by a bomb.

As regards the attendance of Indonesian President Jokowi Widodo to the summit, Valte said there had been no formal confirmation of his decision to skip the event.

But she said Widodo would “most likely be unable to attend the summit.”

“We understand that the pressing matters back home require his immediate attention,” said Valte.

DFA undersecretary Laura Del Rosario on Thursday said Widodo will be represented by his Trade Minister Thomas Lembong in the Manila meeting. (MNS)

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