MANILA (Philippine Daily Inquirer/ANN) - Philippine President Rodrigo Duterte’s spokesman said that the Philippine leader welcomes joint exercises with Russia, saying this will boost maritime cooperation between the two countries.
Philippines sees a boost in ties with Moscow with the goodwill visit of Russian warships to the country, and says President Rodrigo Duterte is open to joint military exercises with Russia.
Speaking to reporters on Thursday, presidential spokesperson Ernesto Abella said the visit of the Russian vessels would strengthen the friendship between the navies of the two countries.
“It is also an indication that our maritime cooperation can further be enhanced to enable diplomacy and camaraderie,” Abella said.
The President is scheduled to visit one of the ships Friday.
The visit of the Russian warships comes after the Philippines scaled down its joint military exercises with the United States amid waning ties.
Mr. Duterte has lashed out at the United States and threatened to terminate Manila’s Visiting Forces Agreement with Washington after US President Barack Obama and US lawmakers criticized his brutal war on drugs.
The President has also said he wants all foreign troops out of the country.
Abella said Mr. Duterte disapproved only of the “permanent” stay of foreign troops in the Philippines.
“Joint exercises may be something that they consider,” he added.
He also said joint military exercises between the Philippines and Russia would depend on the signing of a memorandum of understanding that would provide the framework for the terms of engagement.