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Russia Offers Philippines Close Friendship, Weapons

Russian Ambassador to the Philippines Igor Khovaev made his remarks during a news conference on board the Russian antisubmarine vessel docked at Manila.

Moscow is ready to become a "close friend of the Philippines" as the southeastern Asian country diversifies its foreign ties, Russia's ambassador has said.

Since taking office in June, Philippine President Rodrigo 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.

"We don't interfere with your relations with your traditional partners and your traditional partners should respect the interest of the Philippines and Russia," Russian Ambassador Igor Khovaev told a news conference on board the Russian antisubmarine vessel Admiral Tributs on January 4.

Khovaev also said Russia was ready to supply the Philippines with "sophisticated weapons," including aircraft and submarines.

Based on reporting by Reuters and ABS-CBN News