Duterte set for historic visits to Israel, Jordan
President Rodrigo Duterte embarks on historic visits to Israel and Jordan from September 2 to 8, the country’s first ever leader to be making the journey.
Foreign Affairs Undersecretary Ernesto Abella on Thursday said the President would arrive in Israel on September 2 for a four-day state visit, highlighted by a meeting with Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu.
Mr. Duterte proceeds on September 6 to Jordan’s capital, Amman, to meet with King Abdullah II.
“These trips will be the first by a sitting Philippine President to both countries. The visits will mark historic milestones, benefit trade and strengthen relationships with key partners in the Middle East,” Abella said in a press briefing.
The President’s trip to Jordan ends on September 8.
On Mr. Duterte’s trip to Israel, Abella said the President “saw it fit” to visit the country after he was invited last year.
‘Enemies to none’
“The renewal and expansion of our relations with Israel is in pursuit of our ‘friends to all, enemies to none’ foreign policy. The Philippines expects to do its part in promoting peace and stability in the region,” he said.
Asked whether the President’s visit to Israel might affect Manila’s relations with Arab countries which have not recognized the Jewish state, Abella said the government was aware of “certain sensitivities.”
“But I believe we have reached the stage of maturity in our relations that they understand, each one of them,” he said.
Abella said he did not believe these sensitivities would pose a challenge.
Asked whether the President would visit the Holy Land while in Israel, Abella only said the Chief Executive would visit “significant spots” there.
Abella also cited the agreements that would be signed during Mr. Duterte’s visits to the two countries.
The agreements with Israel include a memorandum of agreement on the employment of Filipino caregivers, a memorandum of understanding on scientific cooperation and a memorandum of understanding between Invest in Israel and the Philippines’ Board of Investments.
Excessive placement fees
“In the future, we expect improvements in deployment procedures and the elimination of excessive placement fees imposed on Filipino workers bound for Israel,” Abella said.
The agreements to be signed with Jordan include a deal on the employment of domestic workers, a memorandum of understanding on labor cooperation and a memorandum of agreement on defense cooperation.
Abella said the government also expected political consultations between the two nations on trade and investments, as well as an investment agreement with the Jordanian Investment Commission.
“Lastly, a mutual recognition of standard of training and certification of watchkeepers for seafarers,” he said.
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