Kuwait, Philippines willing to settle rift

MANILA, With its "historic friendship" with Kuwait, the Philippines is optimistic the two nations' diplomatic rift will be fixed after Kuwait committed to cooperate with the Philippine government to maintain ties.

"It will be a good start para maumpisahan natin na maayos, kung ano man ang ating misunderstandings (It will be a good start so that we can move forward and iron out our misunderstandings)," Noordin Pendosina Lomondot, Consul General at the Philippine Embassy in Kuwait, told the Philippine News Agency on Monday.

"We are optimistic we could fix this spat," he added. "These are all trials, but we could overcome this."

The Kuwait News Agency on Sunday, quoting Kuwait Deputy Foreign Minister Khaled Al-Jarallah, reported that the Gulf state is willing to work with Manila to continue and revive its relations. The Kuwait government is looking forward to work with the Philippines to honor mutual interest, the news report added.

Responding to the earlier speech of President Rodrigo R. Duterte, Al-Jarallah said Kuwait is ready to assist Manila in addressing labor issues that mostly affect household service workers.

He also noted that Kuwait ensures the safety and rights of all nationals, including Filipinos, with their labor laws. This, after he recognized the contribution of the Filipino community who are working in different sectors in the Arab state.

President Duterte earlier mentioned that Manila has been always been a friend of Kuwait when it supported them during the ?1990-1991 Gulf War, or Iraq's invasion of Kuwait.

Al-Jarallah said Kuwait shares the chief executive's desire to maintain "deeply-rooted" ties, adding this "historic friendship" could help overcome the "exceptional circumstance" Philippines and Kuwait are in.

On Monday, Presidential Spokesperson Harry Roque revealed that Labor Secretary Silvestre Bello III and other Cabinet members will visit Kuwait on the 1st week of May.

Kuwait, angered by the rescue of distressed Filipino workers by the embassy, earlier issued two diplomatic protests, and eventually declared Ambassador Renato Villa as persona non grata from the country.

Lomondot said Villa is expected to be back in Manila on May 2.

At present, the Department of Foreign Affairs is working on the assignment of a charge d'affaires in Kuwait. "They are still looking for a senior officer," Lomondot said.

Source: Philippine News Agency