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Philippines' Duterte Thanks Putin For 'Timely' Weapons, Says He'd Like More


Russian President Vladimir Putin (right) meets with Philippine President Rodrigo Duterte on the sidelines of the Asia-Pacific Economic Cooperation leaders' summit in the central Vietnamese city of Danang on November 10.

Philippine leader Rodrigo Duterte has thanked Russian President Vladimir Putin for "timely" deliveries of weapons and equipment that he said were instrumental in defeating pro-Islamic State militants in his country.

"I want to pass on words of thanks from the Philippine people for the timely aid that Russia provided by giving us trucks and weapons," Duterte said on November 10 as the two met on the sidelines of the APEC summit in Danang, Vietnam.

The Philippine military last month declared victory in the southern city of Marawi against militants loyal to the Islamic State extremist group, after Russia sent army trucks and thousands of Kalashnikov assault rifles to Duterte.

The Philippines enjoys major non-NATO U.S. ally status, but Duterte last year threatened to sever defense ties with Washington following criticism from former U.S. President Barack Obama's administration over his crackdown on drugs, which has seen police kill thousands of people.

American lawmakers, concerned with Duterte's human rights record and rising killings, have blocked the sale of more than 20,000 assault rifles from the United States to the Philippines.

Meanwhile, Manila and Moscow signed a military deal on logistics, including a contract with a state-owned company for the supply of equipment, during the first-ever visit by a Russian defense minister to the Philippines last month.

"The weapons we received from Russia, modern weapons, were given to special police regiments. That was very important. I intend to continue buying these weapons in the future," Duterte told Putin, adding that he was "delighted" by the Russian arms' quality.

Putin said that "weapons are important" but Duterte's "readiness...to fight the threat of terrorism" is even more significant.

"We are ready to develop our relations, including in the military sphere," he said.

Duterte, 72, won last year's presidential elections after promising to eradicate illegal drugs with an unprecedented crackdown that would see up to 100,000 people killed.

He remains popular with many Filipinos, but critics warn that he is orchestrating a campaign of extrajudicial killings, carried out by corrupt police and vigilantes.

With reporting by Reuters, AP, and AFP
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