, OCTOBER 31, 2007 (STAR) By Pia Lee-Brago - President Arroyo will have a one-on-one meeting with Queen Elizabeth II during her two-day working visit to the United Kingdom in December, the British Embassy in Manila announced yesterday.

British Ambassador Peter Beckingham made the announcement at the inauguration of a training center of British company Cape East Philippines Inc. in Taguig City yesterday. The President attended the inauguration.

In her UK visit, Mrs. Arroyo will also meet with top executives of major British firms, according to Beckingham. Her visit will be in time for the commemoration of RP-UK Friendship Day on Dec. 7.

Mrs. Arroyo will arrive in UK on Dec. 6 and will meet the Queen at Buckingham Palace for the first time. She leaves London the next day for a state visit to Spain.

Marciano Paynor, chief of presidential protocol, said the arrangement for the UK meeting began “quite some time ago” and that it was firmed up during a brief chat between Mrs. Arroyo and Prince Andrew in Kuala Lumpur where they were guests at the 50th national day of Malaysia last August.

Paynor said First Gentleman Jose Miguel Arroyo would likely join the meeting with the British monarch.

But he said it’s not yet clear if the visit would be called an official or a working visit.

When asked what Mrs. Arroyo could possibly discuss with Queen Elizabeth II, Paynor said it should be made clear that the monarch is the head of state while British Prime Minister Gordon Brown is the head of government.

“So it is likely that the President and the Queen would discuss general matters on the relationship between our two countries and people-to-people relationship,” Paynor told The STAR in a telephone interview.

“But the details on political and economic issues, I suppose the President and Prime Minister Brown would take that up,” he said.

Training center

Beckingham said the significant investment of Cape Industrial Services Group (CISG) in the Philippines through Cape East Philippines Inc. showed investors’ growing recognition of Filipino workers’ skills.

“Recognition of the high quality of Filipino skilled workers is growing, as demonstrated by CISG’s significant investment,” Beckingham said.

“The benefits to the Philippines include not just jobs in the immediate future, but also an increase in the competitiveness of the Filipino worker in the long-term,” he added.

Cape East’s Philippine training center will help upgrade the skills of 1,200 workers yearly in power, oil, gas, petrochemical, refining, and processing industries.

Graduates of the training courses will then be sent to various local and global locations to support CISG’s operations.

The training center is the second such facility launched in the country by a British company this year. Balfour Beatty launched its own training center in July to fill the needs of the engineering and construction sector.

Cape East is known for its strong commitment to the requirements of its clients around the world.

It was nominated recently to receive the Sword of Honour from the British Safety Council.

Cape East Philippines’ training center is the first to gain international accreditation from CISRS, recognized as a leading UK governing body for training institutions. - With Paolo Romero

Chief News Editor: Sol Jose Vanzi

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