MANILA (UPDATE) - President Rodrigo Duterte will visit Israel in September, making him the first Philippine leader to visit the Jewish state, his top aide confirmed Wednesday.
Special Assistant to the President Bong Go told ABS-CBN News that the visit will take place in September, although the exact dates are still being finalized by the two countries.
“There will still be a joint official announcement on the dates in September,” Go told ABS-CBN News.
Duterte was supposed to visit Israel in May last year but it was canceled as the government dealt with the Marawi siege.
Israeli online news site The Times of Israel also quoted an Israeli official as confirming that Duterte will visit the country.
Israeli news reports said Duterte will sign agreements covering Filipinos who provide long-term care in Israel, and combating the drug trade.
The President will also reportedly discuss with Israeli officials the establishment of a direct flight between Israel and the Philippines, agricultural cooperation, and security deals.
Duterte courted controversy in September 2016 when he compared himself to Adolf Hitler, saying he would be happy to slaughter 3 million drug addicts like what the Nazi leader did to Jews.
The President apologized for his remarks in a synagogue.
OCTOBER KUWAIT VISIT
Meanwhile, Go said Duterte is looking at an October visit to Kuwait.
Go said the Kuwait visit is subject to the availability of the Emir of Kuwait Sheikh Sabah Al-Ahmad Al-Jaber Al-Sabah.
Duterte was supposed to visit Kuwait last May as Manila and Kuwait worked out a deal for the protection of Filipino workers in the Gulf state.
Manila had imposed a total ban on the deployment of Filipino workers to Kuwait following a string of cases of abuse against Philippine migrant workers there.
The visit was also pushed back after the Philippines and Kuwait figured in a diplomatic spat after a video showing a rescue of distressed Filipino domestic workers from their employers' homes in the Gulf state surfaced and went viral.
Kuwait viewed the Philippine embassy’s rescue mission as a violation of its laws and sovereignty, prompting the expulsion of then Philippine Ambassador Renato Villa and the recall of its envoy to the Philippines.
The two countries have since patched things up and finalized the deal for improved protection for Filipino workers.