11/14/2018, 13.49
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Singapore, the foundation stone of an Orthodox Russian church. And also business

by Vladimir Rozanskij

The president of the city-state, Halimah Yakob, President Putin and Russian Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov participated in the laying of the first stone. "Humanitarian" and economic relations. Putin intends to propose a free trade zone between Singapore and the Eurasian Economic Union. The ASEAN meeting.

Moscow (AsiaNews) - Yesterday Vladimir Putin took part in the solemn ceremony laying the foundation stone of the Church of the Dormition of the Virgin in Singapore. The church will be built on the territory of the Russian Cultural Center, as announced by Interfax news agency. 33 thousand square meters of land were leased for the building, one fifth of which will be occupied by the place of worship. The Orthodox Dormition parish has been operating in Singapore since the end of 2008, but so far the celebrations are taking place in a small rented room.

The ceremony was also attended by the president of Singapore, Halimah Yakob, together with the Russian foreign minister Sergej Lavrov, who said: "The construction of a Russian cultural-religious complex in Singapore will give a great boost to the expansion of relations humanitarians among our peoples ".

The relations between Russia and Singapore are among the goals of the visit of Putin and Lavrov, who are taking part in the summit of the Association of Southeast Asian Nations (ASEAN), which will take place from 13 to 15 November in Singapore. During the meeting there was also a Russia-ASEAN summit, and a session extended to the whole of East Asia. Putin intends to consolidate the decisions taken in the previous Sochi 2016 meeting, where an agreement was signed on the development of commercial and economic cooperation between Russians and Eastern Asians.

An important part of that agreement concerns the Russian business with Singapore, one of Moscow's largest trading partners. In the first quarter of 2018 the turnover exceeded 17 billion dollars. Putin intends to propose a free trade zone between Singapore and the Eurasian Economic Union.

US President Donald Trump, while invited to the summit, has decided not to participate, by sending Vice President Michael Pence with security assistant John Bolton. The absence of the American president reduces the political significance of the meeting, but not to the detriment of economic negotiations, which on the contrary can gather more impetus on the Chinese project of the "Silk Road", taking into account the interests of Russia.

A rather "hot" topic that is still being addressed at the summit is that of the South China Sea security, a question that has been dragging on for several years, for which the partners are invited to sign a "Code of Conduct" proposed by China. The issue concerns in particular the Parcel Islands and the Spratly Islands, disputes between China, Brunei, Vietnam, Malaysia and the Philippines. Russia also has its disputed islands, the Kurils, the source of contention with Japan since the end of the Second World War. A proposal from Prime Minister Shinzo Abe has been placed before Putin to finally reach a peace agreement.

ASEAN was created in 1967, and brings together a population of almost 625 million people in the 10 member countries: Brunei, Vietnam, Indonesia, Cambodia, Laos, Malaysia, Myanmar, Singapore, Thailand and the Philippines. The partners who entertain official dialogues with it are the European Union, then Australia, India, Canada, China, New Zealand, South Korea, USA, Japan and the Russian Federation. The dialogue between Russia and the ASEAN began in 1991, after the end of communism.

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