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PH, Kuwait patch up differences

By GENALYN KABILING

All’s well that ends well.

The Philippine government has pledged to respect the sovereignty of Kuwait in a bid to resolve a diplomatic conflict over the rescue of distressed Filipino workers in the Gulf State.

The assurance was made by President Duterte during his “frank” and “cordial” meeting with Kuwaiti Ambassador to the Philippines Saleh Ahmad Althwaikh in Davao City last Monday as he sought to prevent the conflict from escalating.

The two sides have threshed out the misunderstanding arising from the video of Philippine embassy staff rescuing OFWs in Kuwait and have agreed to “move forward” with the bilateral relations, according to Presidential Spokesman Harry Roque.

“They discussed recent events that transpired in Kuwait. They parted on a positive note emphasizing that while the Philippines will always exercise its obligation to protect its nationals abroad, they will do so in a manner respecting the sovereignty of Kuwait,” Roque said during a Palace news conference.

“I understand that after the meeting both parties reiterated their mutual support for each other and parted even closer as friends,” he added.

Kuwait’s Ministry of Foreign Affairs earlier summoned Philippine Ambassador Renato Villa and presented protest notes over the video showing embassy personnel rescuing Filipino workers. The ministry reportedly expressed regret over such practices that could harm relations between the two countries. The video that angered Kuwait reportedly came from the Department of Foreign Affairs.

Roque said the President was able to fix the conflict with Kuwait through his “very personal” and “very friendly” manner without having to issue any apology.

“Nagkaintindihan na muli ang Kuwait at ang Pilipinas…Yung mga hindi pagkakaintindihan siguro, alam niyo kung ano iyon, iyung pinoprotesta ng Kuwait, pero I think naayos naman ni Presidente ang sigalot na ‘yan, minor lang naman,” he said

Asked if the President apologized to the Kuwaiti envoy over the rescue video, Roqu said: “I don’t think that was necessary at all.”

“I think he made it very clear that he had no other option but to protect Filipino workers in Kuwait. So I think that was made very clear to the Kuwait side; but at the same time – because we also have this policy of independent foreign policy – he also recognize the right of sovereignty as far as Kuwait is concerned,” he added.

Kuwait, for its part, has affirmed its commitment to protect and ensure the welfare of Filipino workers.

“What they agreed upon is that they will honor, you know, minimum standards of treating our OFWs. They will respect our rights to protect our workers in Kuwait,” Roque said.

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