GMA  TO  VISIT  SAUDI  ARABIA,  U.S.  IN  SEPTEMBER

MANILA, August 25, 2005 (STAR) (AP) Philippine President Gloria Macapagal Arroyo will hold talks with Saudi Arabia's King Abdullah next month to seek "affordable" oil, before she flies to New York for U.N. meetings, officials said Wednesday.

During her Sept. 11-12 visit to Saudi Arabia, Arroyo also will discuss the welfare of hundreds of thousands of Filipino workers in the kingdom and seek support for the Philippines' bid for observer status in the Organization of the Islamic Conference, officials said.

Executive Secretary Eduardo Ermita said Arroyo will appeal to oil-producing countries "to make oil available to the Philippines and other countries similar to the Philippines at a price that is affordable, and not continuously increasing."

The Philippines imports nearly all its petroleum, and Arroyo has ordered energy conservation in view of rapidly increasing global oil prices.

Presidential spokesman Ignacio Bunye said Arroyo will cite cases of abuse of Filipino domestic helpers in Saudi Arabia in her talks with Saudi officials.

Bunye said Manila was satisfied by the creation of a special Saudi department that will look into cases of alleged abuse against foreign maids.

The Philippines has been seeking observer status in the OIC, the world's biggest Muslim grouping, to help resolve the Muslim separatist rebellion in the southern part of the country.

Arroyo will attend the World Summit and the U.N. General Assembly, foreign affairs spokesman Gilber Asuque said. Filipino diplomats have proposed a summit of member-states of the Security Council to be chaired by Arroyo.

The Philippines, which became a member of the Security Council in January 2004, assumes the rotating presidency for the second time next month.


Reported by: Sol Jose Vanzi

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