‘Mindanao strife increases Philippines desire to deepen security, defense’
Pia Lee-Brago (The Philippine Star) - May 29, 2017 - 4:00pm

MANILA, Philippines - For Foreign Secretary Alan Peter Cayetano, developments in Mindanao following the Maute terror group’s attack in Marawi City only strengthen the Philippines’ desire to deepen bilateral engagement in security and defense, especially in terms of intelligence-sharing, in order to combat terrorism.

Cayetano met with Russian Foreign Minister Sergey Lavrov in Moscow for the first time on May 25, following his appointment as the country’s top envoy, to discuss opportunities to strengthen and deepen the Philippine-Russian relations. This was after President Duterte’s decision to cut short his official visit to Russia due to the security situation in Mindanao.

Cayetano conveyed the President’s deep gratitude for the flexibility and statesmanship of Russian President Vladimir Putin, who had to reorganize his schedule to meet with Duterte just before the latter flew out of Moscow in the evening of May 23.

Lavrov stressed that the Russian government completely understands the decision and that Duterte’s official visit has laid the foundation for a stable relationship between the two nations.

During the working lunch hosted by Lavrov for Cayetano, the two exchanged views on a wide range of bilateral and regional issues.

The secretary and the minister reiterated the Philippines’ and Russia’s shared commitment to enhance ties in the areas of trade, science and technology, security, military-technical cooperation, energy, culture and people-to-people exchanges.

As a concrete step forward, Cayetano and Lavrov agreed to facilitate business-to-business exchanges.

Russian Deputy Foreign Minister Igor Morgulov extended an invitation to Undersecretary Enrique Manalo to visit Moscow in the latter part of the year for consultations.

“There is no doubt that (the) Philippine-Russian relations will grow under President Duterte’s administration. We will work hard to make this newfound robustness in the relations sustainable,” Cayetano said.

He said the President’s official visit to Russia was productive.

On May 24, 10 bilateral documents were signed to serve as frameworks for cooperation in the spheres of security, defense, trade and investment, industrial development, agriculture, transportation, culture and nuclear energy.

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