President Rodrigo Roa Duterte greets Russian Ambassador to the Philippines Igor Khovaev who paid a courtesy call on the President at the Malacañan Palace on January 31, 2019. (Photo of Albert Alcain/Presidential Photo)
MANILA -- The Russian government has reaffirmed its commitment to help the Philippines combat terrorism, Malacañang said Thursday.
Presidential Spokesperson Salvador Panelo made this remark after Russian Ambassador Igor Khovaev met with President Rodrigo R. Duterte during a courtesy call on Thursday afternoon.
During their meeting, Panelo said Khovaev expressed sympathies to the President for the victims of the twin bomb attacks in Jolo, Sulu which killed 22 people and injured at least 97 others.
“The Russian ambassador reiterated their condolences for the deaths caused by the twin explosions in Jolo and condemned the incident while reaffirming their country's commitment to help our nation combat terrorism,” he said in a statement.
“Russian Ambassador Khovaev likewise renewed Russia’s commitment to strengthen their cooperation to help our national defense and significantly improve its capabilities,” he added.
Panelo said Duterte, meanwhile, thanked the Russian Ambassador for his condolences and expressed appreciation for their shared commitment to combat terrorism and violent extremism.
According to him, Khovaev also bared that Russia intends to build a long-term relationship with the Philippines based on trust and confidence.
Duterte also renewed the commitment to further expand and deepen cooperative ties with Russia.
Earlier, Russian President Vladimir Putin, in a telegram sent to Duterte, stated Russia's "readiness to further step up interaction" with Philippine partners in combating terrorist threat in all its forms and manifestations.
“A crime committed against civilians who had congregated for church services is shocking in its cynicism and cruelty. I expect that the masterminds and perpetrators of this crime will sustain the punishment they deserve," Putin said.
"People in Russia share the grief of the victims’ friends and families and hope for a prompt recovery of the injured," he added.
Aside from the Russian ambassador, Israeli Ambassador Rafael Harpaz also met with the President the same day to relay condolences to the families of victims of the Jolo twin blasts, emphasizing that terrorism and violent extremism must end.
Harpaz, meanwhile, reported to the President that Israel had already ratified the agreements on opening and improving opportunities for overseas Filipinos in Israel.
He was particularly referring to an agreement for caregivers and those working in the hotel industry, which Panelo described as “a direct result of President Duterte’s historic visit to Israel.”
The Israeli envoy also expressed hope regarding forging stronger ties between the Philippines and Israel in agriculture and trade.
Duterte reaffirmed the commitment of the Philippine government to strengthen cooperation between the two countries across many fields. (PNA)