THE Philippines and Russia have strengthened their bilateral relations with the signing of nine agreements, including an extradition treaty, on Monday, November 13.
The signing of nine deals was held during the bilateral meeting between President Rodrigo Duterte and Russian Prime Minister Dmitry Medvedev late Monday night held at Coconut Palace in Pasay City, following the first day of the 31st Association of Southeast Asian Nations (Asean) summit.
Both leaders witnessed the signing of treaties on mutual legal assistance in criminal matters and extradition.
Representatives from both countries also inked memoranda of understanding for cooperation in the fields of energy, mass communication, transport education, education, intellectual property, and audit.
Duterte and Medvedev also witnessed the signing of a business-to-business agreement between Filipino firm Global Ferronickel Holdings Inc. and Russian company V Holding LLC.
In his speech, Duterte expressed gratitude for the Philippines' improved ties with Russia.
"We have started an improvement of our friendship and plan to increase trade, expand it and I know that your country is seriously considering all these things," Duterte said.
"We are happy that we can find a new market in the Eurasian front. We would only want a small opening so we can do business with the other countries," he added.
Medvedev assured Duterte that Russia would be a close ally of the Philippines.
He said Russia is committed to helping the Philippines under Duterte's leadership, especially when it comes to fighting terrorism.
"The fact that we are meeting with you quite late at night points to a new level of our partnership of our relations," he said.
"And no doubt we will keep standing by your side. We'll keep assisting you in this very important and sensitive theme and along this this track of fight against terrorism in the course like bringing or restoring law and order," he added.
Philippine military officials declared an end to the war in Marawi City just three weeks ago.
Duterte thanked Russia for providing assistance to his administration during the armed conflict.
He also took the opportunity to inform Medvedev about the two Russian nationals, Yuri Kirdyushin and Anastasia Novopashina, who are facing criminal charges in the Philippines because of their alleged involvement in illegal drugs.
Amid the government's bloody crackdown on narcotics, Duterte assured Medvedev that the two Russian nationals would get fair trial.
"We have a working functional justice system here and they will get a fair trial and they will be detained in a comfortable house. It's still under investigation," he said. (SunStar Philippines)