Russia vows to help Philippines vs drugs By Alexis Romero

MOSCOW – Russia’s top diplomat on Thursday expressed his country’s commitment to help the Philippines in its fight against illegal drugs and terrorism as he thanked the Duterte administration for its efforts to enhance the ties between the two countries.
Russian foreign minister Sergey Lavrov said President Rodrigo Duterte’s visit to Russia helped develop a stable relationship between Manila and Moscow.

“I would like to reiterate our commitment to working together in security sphere, in fighting terrorism or fighting drug trafficking and other matters,” Lavrov told Foreign Affairs Secretary Alan Peter Cayetano during their bilateral meeting here.

“Thank you once again to you and colleagues’ support during this work together with us,” he added.
Duterte trip cut short

Duterte was supposed to stay here until May 26 but was forced to cut short his trip because of clashes with terrorists in Marawi, which prompted him to declare martial law in Mindanao.

“I would like to once again reiterate our solidarity with the leadership of the Philippines, with the nation of Philippines and to express our sympathies and condolences to those who were hurt,” Lavrov said.

Lavrov also welcomed the signing of bilateral agreements in the fields of security, nuclear energy, transportation, investment, industry, culture and arts, tourism and foreign affairs. He said other important documents on law enforcement, military and technical cooperation are now on their final stage of preparations.

Cayetano thanked the Russian government for welcoming Duterte and his delegation and for understanding the Philippine president’s decision to return home earlier than scheduled. He also thanked Russian President Vladimir Putin for rearranging his schedule to meet with Duterte last Tuesday.

“Your Excellency, I want to reiterate the President’s commitment to strengthen the relations between Russia and the Philippines in many areas, a commitment to forge true friendship and real brotherhood between Russians and Filipinos,” Cayetano said.

Cayetano said current developments in Mindanao support the two countries’ desire to strengthen security and intelligence cooperation.

He said the Philippine government is looking forward to welcoming Russia Prime Minister Dmitry Medvedev in Manila in November for the Association of Southeast Asian Nations summit and related summits.

Cayetano expressed hopes that Duterte would still be able to visit Russia in some other time, to which Lavrov replied: “I can assure you that we’ll be happy to see him anytime.”

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