MANILA- President Rodrigo Duterte left the country on Monday afternoon to start his week-long state visits to 3 Middle East countries.
In his pre-departure speech in Davao City, Duterte said he will seek the support of Middle East state leaders for peace efforts in Mindanao.
"This will be my first meeting with esteemed leaders of the States of the Gulf. I will seek their support for our efforts to bring just and lasting peace in Mindanao. I also look forward to exchanging views with them on regional security issues, promoting intercultural dialogue and the Philippines’ efforts at community building in ASEAN," Duterte, who read a prepared speech, said.
The President will visit the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia from April 10 to 12, the Kingdom of Bahrain from 12 to 14, and the State of Qatar from 14 to 16.
He added that Manila will try to seek more investments and better trade deals, noting that the Middle East is "an expanding market for key Philippine products and services"
"We will seek greater politico-security cooperation, collaboration in the field of health and in culture. This, on top of our agenda of spurring two-way trade and investment," he said.
There are about 760,000 Filipinos in Saudi Arabia, 60,000 in Bahrain, and 250,000 in Qatar, according to the Department of Foreign Affairs.