Duterte: Russia is a friend

DAVAO CITY (MindaNews / 24 May) – “Russia is a true friend.”

This was how President Rodrigo R. Duterte described the country after he returned from his shortened official visit Wednesday due to the incursion of the local terrorist Maute Group in Marawi City since Tuesday.

Before leaving for Manila from Moscow, he said he managed to set a meeting with Russian President Vladimir Putin, who he said had to fly back to Moscow from another region in Russia, supposedly for a 15-minute meeting but lasted for about an hour and half.

“I told the security guys of Russia, if there’s any chance to talk to Putin even for 15 minutes to say hello and goodbye, but he was in another region of Russia,” he said during his arrival message at the Ninoy Aquino international Airport (NAIA) Wednesday.

President Rodrigo Roa Duterte meets with Russian Federation President Vladimir Putin at the Kremlin in Moscow on May 24, 2017. Duterte cut short his official visit following his declaration of martial law in the entire Mindanao. PRESIDENTIAL PHOTO

He said he had had a productive meeting with Putin, discussing, among others, economic, assistance, and security concerns.

Duterte added he saw the need to expand the Philippines’s network of friends and allies amid the threats of terrorism.

“The emergence of new forms of terrorism and the existence of non-traditional security threats reinforce the need to broaden and widen our network of friends and allies to strengthen our security cooperation,” he said.

Duterte said that he looks forward to strengthening political and security relations with Russia and build security cooperation framework attuned to the responsiveness of the present needs and challenges.

He said the country will have to address its own national security concerns while it seeks to further enhance regional and global collaboration and pursue a common desire to attain peace and stability.

“There is a series of terroristic acts committed by the Maute Group, which resulted in the loss of lives of citizens, including policemen and soldiers,” aside from the destruction of properties and displacement of civilians, Duterte said.

The President said that he instructed Foreign Affairs Secretary Alan Cayetano to meet with his counterpart, Foreign Minister Sergey Lavrov, to discuss how to strengthen bilateral relations and to sign some agreements.

He said the government’s relevant economic agencies to “pursue arrangement that can best advance our shared interest to increase economic cooperation and enhance culture and people-to-people exchanges. (Antonio L. Colina IV / MindaNews)