Duterte asks Putin for loan to buy guns

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Russian President Vladimir Putin, right, shakes hands with Philippine President Rodrigo Duterte during their meeting at the Kremlin in Moscow, Tuesday, May 23, 2017. (Maxim Shemetov/Pool Photo via AP)

MOSCOW – Despite the abrupt end to President Duterte’s visit to Moscow, the Philippines and Russia will continue to pursue greater cooperation, including possibly on military matters.

In a meeting with Russian President Vladimir Putin, Mr. Duterte sought a “soft loan” from Russia to buy firearms, because the United States had canceled the Philippines’ planned purchase of US guns.

“I’m having problems with the IS (Islamic State). I come here to seek help,” Mr. Duterte said.

Mr. Duterte and Putin met at the Kremlin before Mr. Duterte flew back home to the Philippines to attend to terror attacks in Marawi City, which prompted him to put the entire Mindanao under martial law.

Putin himself had returned to Moscow from a trip Tuesday evening for the meeting with the Philippine President, his avowed admirer.

Mr. Duterte offered Putin friendship and said he wanted to establish strong bilateral relations with Russia, later assuring him that the Philippines was no longer under the thumb of the West.

“I have gone out of the ambit of the western influence. Nothing has happened ever since the occupation,” he said, referring to the Americans.

Putin, for his part, said the package of bilateral agreements between the Philippines and Russia, which had been prepared for Mr. Duterte’s visit, would still be signed.

While trade between their countries is low, it has been increasing by 25 percent, said the Russian president.

There are also many areas where they can cooperate, including on military matters, he said.

“And we have very many promising and interesting areas of cooperation, including on energy machine building, transport and infrastructure,” Putin added.

During their meeting, Mr. Duterte also explained the reason for his swift departure from the Russian capital, saying he had a problem with IS and had to go home to attend to the urgent matter.

Putin condoled with the Philippines for the loss of lives in the terror attack in Marawi and said he hoped it would be resolved soon with minimal losses and casualties.

He assured Mr. Duterte that he understood why he had to go home at once.

Putin also thanked Mr. Duterte for accepting the invitation to come to Russia.

Putin returned to Moscow from visiting another region in Russia on Tuesday to seize the chance to see the Philippine President in person.

He and Mr. Duterte were originally scheduled to meet on Thursday.

“Your Excellency, Mr. President, I’m so happy to see you in Moscow,” Putin said.

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