Malacanang welcomed on Thursday the goodwill visit by two Russian Navy ships in Manila, saying it will boost friendship with the Philippine Navy.

“The goodwill visit by the Russian Navy will contribute to the strengthening of friendship with Philippine Navy,” Presidential Spokesman Ernesto Abella said in a press briefing.

“It is also an indication that maritime cooperation can further be enhanced to enable diplomacy and camaraderie,” he added.

The Russian Navy’s anti-submarine destroyer Admiral Tributs and sea tanker Boris Butoma arrived last Tuesday and are now anchored at Manila’s South Harbor for a five-day goodwill visit.

Abella said President Rodrigo Duterte, who is expected to visit Russia this year, has said before that he is open to joint military exercises with Russia.

Last month, Department of National Defense Secretary Delfin Lorenzana visited Russia to explore prospects for military-technical cooperation including possible Philippines-Russia Agreement on Defense Cooperation.

Abella said the joint military exercises with Russian military will depend on the signing of the memorandum of understanding (MOU).

“This will provide a framework regarding the terms of engagement from military to military, visiting students, cultural exchanges and joint military exercises,” Abella said.

Abella said President Duterte will visit the Russian Navy vessels on Friday. (PNA) JBP/JFM

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