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Philippine President 'Open To Joint Military Drills' With Russia

Philippine President Rodrigo Duterte (file photo)
Philippine President Rodrigo Duterte (file photo)

Philippine President Rodrigo Duterte is open to joint military exercises with Russia, his spokesman has said.

Since taking office in June, Duterte has made repeated threats and verbal tirades against the United States, a long-time ally, while taking steps to boost relations with China and Russia.

Two Russian warships are currently on a four-day visit to Manila -- the first official navy-to-navy contact between the two countries.

Presidential spokesman Ernesto Abella said on January 5 that the visit was "an indication that the maritime cooperation can further be enhanced to enable diplomacy and camaraderie."

A memorandum of agreement would need to be signed between Manila and Moscow to establish the framework of any future military drills, Abella added.

On January 4, Russia’s ambassador to the Philippines Igor Khovaev said Moscow was ready to become a "close friend of the Philippines," adding that Russia would be willing to supply the southeastern Asian nation with "sophisticated weapons."

Based on reporting by Bloomberg and Philstar