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Philippines Open to Joint Military Drills With Russia

© AP Photo / Aaron FavilaA Philippine Navy Band plays as the Russian Navy vessel Admiral Tributs, a large anti-submarine ship, docks at Manila's pier, Philippines on Tuesday, Jan. 3, 2017
A Philippine Navy Band plays as the Russian Navy vessel Admiral Tributs, a large anti-submarine ship, docks at Manila's pier, Philippines on Tuesday, Jan. 3, 2017 - Sputnik International
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Philippine leader Rodrigo Duterte said through his spokesman that he is open to joint drills with Russia.

MOSCOW (Sputnik) — Philippine President Rodrigo Duterte would be open to the idea of conducting joint military exercises with Russia, presidential spokesman Ernesto Abella said Thursday.

"The president has said that he is open to joint military exercises with Russia, the goodwill visit by the Russian Navy will contribute to the strengthening of friendship with the Philippine navy, it also is an indication of our maritime cooperation can further be enhanced by naval diplomacy and camaraderie," Abella said at a press briefing.

On Tuesday, Russia's Admiral Tributs anti-submarine destroyer and Boris Butoma sea tanker arrived in the Philippines for a four-day visit. During the press conference dedicated to the visit, Rear Adm. Eduard Mikhailov said that the Russian and Philippine governments would negotiate potential bilateral navy drills soon.

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The United States sees no problem in the potential joint military exercises between the Russian and Philippine navies, US Department of State spokesman John Kirby said Wednesday.

In October, Duterte announced his country could build a defense and economic alliance with Russia and China.

On November 20, the Philippine president said he planned to send defense and foreign ministers to prepare for his visit to Russia at the invitation of Russian President Vladimir Putin. Duterte is expected to visit Moscow later this year to hold talks on a wide range of agreements from weapons to communications.

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