MANILA, May 19 (Xinhua) -- The Philippines and Russia are planning to strengthen their respective defense "presence" by opening defense attache offices in Manila and Moscow, a Philippine diplomat said on Friday.
In a news conference at the Malacanang presidential palace, Assistant Foreign Secretary Maria Cleofe Natividad said President Rodrigo Duterte and Russian President Vladimir Putin will witness the signing of "several" defense cooperation and other bilateral agreements during Duterte's official visit to Russia from May 22 to 26.
"These agreements are those related to defense, security, legal assistance, trade and investment, peaceful use of nuclear energy and culture," Natividad said, adding that Manila looks forward "to having greater exchanges in terms of views on how to approach security challenges."
"We also look forward to strengthening our presence in terms of the defense offices both in Moscow and here in Manila," she said, baring plans to "actually opening soon an Office of Defense Attache in Moscow."
She added the Russian government also plans to open a defense office in Manila "to further strengthen our partnership in approaching both traditional and non-traditional security matters such as anti-terrorism and anti-illegal drugs, trafficking, and others."
She said Duterte's visit will mark a new chapter in Philippines-Russia relations. "We also see this visit as an indication of our strong desire to enhance and strengthen bilateral relations," she said.
Duterte is scheduled to visit the cities of Moscow and St. Petersburg. Aside from Putin, Duterte is also expected to have a bilateral meeting with Russian Prime Minister Dmitry Medvedev.