US, Russia Back Philippines’ War Against Terror, Drugs
The U.S. and Russia on Tuesday separately reiterated their support for the Philippines in its fight against terrorism and illegal drugs, Anadolu Agency reports.
“President Duterte met with U.S. Secretary of State Rex Tillerson and had a comprehensive discussion on the strong alliance and robust bilateral partnership” between the two nations, presidential spokesman Ernesto Abella was quoted by GMA News.
Abella said Tillerson reiterated the U.S.’s “strong and sustained support” for the Philippines’ capabilities to eradicate terrorists and offered aid for rebuilding war-torn Marawi.
Duterte and Tillerson also discussed the Philippines' campaign against illegal drugs and acknowledged the narcotics trade is a problem for both countries while stressing the need to work together to address the issue.
Washington has been a vocal critic of Duterte’s war on drugs that has claimed thousands of lives due to extrajudicial killings.
In a separate meeting with top Philippine diplomat Alan Peter Cayetano, Russian Foreign Minister Sergey Lavrov also vowed to support Manila in its drive against illegal drugs and terrorism.
“Minister Lavrov and I both agreed to fast track negotiations for pending bilateral agreements, particularly on military-technical cooperation, illegal narcotics and law enforcement,” Cayetano was quoted by the Daily Inquirer, on the sidelines of the Association of Southeast Asian Nations Regional Forum in Manila.
Russia’s assistance is vital, “especially given its great expertise, vast experience and modern equipment in dealing with terrorism and other security concerns,” Cayetano said.
Lavrov asked Cayetano to convey to Duterte Moscow’s “solidarity with his efforts to eliminate any extremist threat” to the Philippines and “our appreciation for your solidarity with Russia’s fight against terrorism”.
Cayetano thanked the Russia for offering to help bolster the capabilities of the Philippine police and military.
Duterte met with Russian President Vladimir Putin in Moscow last May but had to cut short his visit due to clashes between government forces and the Daesh-linked Maute group that erupted in Marawi.
Martial law is imposed on the entire island of Mindanao until the end of the year.
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