Philippines' Duterte looks to strengthen ties with trip to Moscow

May 25, 2017, 01:31

The Philippines' top diplomat sought Monday to downplay President Rodrigo Duterte's pronouncement that Chinese President Xi Jinping told him China would go to war with Manila if it insists on drilling for oil in the disputed South China Sea, saying they were not threatening each other but talking about preventing conflict. "He was a threat to none", Villegas said of Chito.

Thousands of people have fled the city, said Myrna Jo Henry, an emergency response official.

Martial law allows Duterte to use the armed forces to carry out arrests, searches and detentions more rapidly.

China and Russian Federation have supported or at least not criticised Duterte's controversial war on drugs, which has left thousands of people dead and led to warnings by rights groups that he may be orchestrating a crime against humanity.

The military has not explained how the raid on an apartment turned into urban warfare that was still raging 12 hours later.The incident highlights the challenges facing Duterte, who has pleaded with separatists and moderate Muslims in the predominantly Catholic nation to shun Abu Sayyaf and Maute.

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Defence Secretary Delfin Lorenzana said and some 1,000 soldiers would be in Marawi by morning, but warned civilians to stay in their homes."There are Maute snipers all around, so the troops are still holding and elements have already joined", he said.The objective of Tuesday's raid was to capture Isnilon Hapilon, a leader of the Abu Sayyaf group which is notorious for piracy and for kidnapping and beheading Westerners.

"It was more the threat of conflict will always be there if we don't have dialogue".

"We will exchange views on regional and worldwide issues to determine how we can best advance our shared interests", Duterte said.

He said the group erected Islamic State flags at several locations.

"Hopefully, the military will be able to control the situation in Marawi city by tomorrow", he said.

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Philippine President Rodrigo Duterte on Tuesday made it clear that Manila does not have the cruise missile to hit China, and therefore, is focused on developing cooperation with China, ASEAN and Russian Federation.

"We had a number of orders in the United States, but the situation in the U.S. has not very smooth lately", Duterte explained.

At least one of those smaller groups, the Maute, was involved in the Marawi siege.

Hapilon, an Arabic-speaking Islamic preacher known for his expertise on commando assaults, pledged allegiance to the Islamic State group in 2014.

"It is hard to root out because they are from there", he said.

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Government troops have been intensifying offensives on the island strongholds of Abu Sayyaf and last month killed about 36 Maute group fighters when aircraft bombed their mountain lair in Lanao del Sur province.

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