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Duterte: Putin offered arms sales after US halted rifle deal

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Philippine President Rodrigo Duterte says Russian President Vladimir Putin has offered to sell his country arms after the US halted the sales of assault rifles to the Southeast Asian country.

After returning from the Asia Pacific Economic Cooperation Summit in Peru on Wednesday, Duterte announced that he was contemplating “other potential transactions which offer better deals and more advantageous terms” as the US rifle contract was being reviewed.

Last month, the arms deal was effectively halted after aides to Ben Cardin, the top Democrat on the US Senate Foreign Relations Committee, said that the US State Department had received information that he would oppose the weapons deal during the pre-notification process.

“If Senator Cardin does not want to sell rifles to us, Putin said you can… buy one and take one [free], almost like that. He said if you cannot buy arms anywhere, come to me,” said Duterte.

The Philippine president met with Putin on Saturday in Peru and complained about Washington’s “bullying” of his country.

“If he (Cardin) does not want us to be allies, then we’ll go to Russia and China. You don’t deprive your ally of arms, because your ally has to protect its public and to keep the order, internally and… [against] foreign aggression,” he added.

Duterte was in the process of canceling the 26,000 assault rifles purchase from the US but halted his decision after Republican Donald Trump’s win in the US presidential election.

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