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Russia, Philippines to boost counterterrorism cooperation — ambassador

A Russian ambassador comments on Moscow-Manila relations

MOSCOW, February 13. /TASS/. Moscow and Manila have been boosting counterterrorism cooperation recently, Russian Ambassador to the Philippines Igor Khovayev said in an interview with TASS. According to him, the Philippines takes much interest in Russia’s experience in this field.

"Growing security and defense cooperation is a sign of the time. Our Philippine partners share our belief that no one is capable of defeating terrorist on their own," the ambassador said.

Moscow and Manila agree that the war on terror requires responsible joint efforts, Khovayev said. "Betting only on the use of force will not make it possible to achieve the desired goal. There is a need to take comprehensive measures, particularly aimed at deterring the spread of terrorist ideas, and steps to prevent the youth from joining terrorist ranks," he added.

The Russian ambassador pointed out that the Philippines was the only Asian country with a Christian majority, while around ten percent of the country’s citizens were Muslims. "Unfortunately, the country’s southern regions, largely inhabited by Muslims, have proved to be vulnerable to the aggressive attack of radical ideas from abroad, particularly by ISIL [the former name of the Islamic State terror group outlawed in Russia - TASS]," he said. In May 2017, terror groups seized the city of Marawi located on the Mindanao Island, but were crushed afterwards.

"Both the country’s government and society went through a tough test. Risks still remain, no one has illusions in this connection," Khovayev noted. He also said he did not see any reasons to question the Philippine government’s determination and capability to ensure the country’s security.

In this regard the Russian ambassador stressed that Moscow’s experience in countering extremism was of much interest to the Philippines. He noted that a shipment of Russian weapons and military hardware, which could be helpful in the fight against terrorists, had been provided to the Philippines for free. "We have a lot of work to do together and we’ll let experts do their job," Khovayev concluded.