, 2009 (STAR) By Paolo Romero - President Arroyo will squeeze in a state visit to Turkey before proceeding to London and Saudi Arabia this week to boost economic and diplomatic ties, Malacañang announced yesterday.

Press Secretary Cerge Remonde said Mrs. Arroyo is scheduled to leave the country on Wednesday and will be back on Sept. 25, at the latest.

Remonde earlier announced that the President cancelled her New York leg of the scheduled trip where she was supposed to address the United Nations General Assembly.

The one-day state visit was upon the invitation of Turkish President Abdullah Gul and it would be an opportunity “to expand bilateral relations, especially in trade and commerce.”

“Turkey is like a gateway to Europe and of course, part of it is our campaign (to achieve) observer status in the Organization of Islamic Conference (OIC),” Remonde told the government-run Radyo ng Bayan.

From Turkey, Mrs. Arroyo will proceed to London to be the keynote speaker on a high-level conference on emerging markets organized by the prestigious and influential The Economist news magazine.

“This (The Emerging Markets Summit) is very good development considering the Philippines is considered among the emerging markets in the world,” the press secretary said.

The theme of the meeting is “Globalization Redefined by Emerging Markets.”

The Department of Foreign Affairs (DFA) said she will be joined by five other heads of government, namely Thailand, Ukraine, Tunisia, Turkey, and Rwanda, which are all emerging economies, and the summit is to be participated in by over 300 business leaders and investors.

Mrs. Arroyo will meet key business leaders to further increase trade and investments into the country and with members of the 200,000-strong Filipino community at the sidelines of the meeting, according to the DFA.

From London, she will proceed to Jeddah in Saudi Arabia for a state visit on Sept. 21, this time upon the invitation of King Abdullah bin AbdulAziz Al Saud.

“The President will grace the official inauguration of the King Abdullah University of Science and Technology in Thuwal, Rabigh, Saudi Arabia on September 23. The inauguration is highly significant as it will coincide with the celebration of the Saudi National Day and the Eid al-Fitr, marking the end of holy month of Ramadan,” the DFA said.

Mrs. Arroyo and King Abdullah will also hold talks on ways to further strengthen bilateral relations, including closer economic cooperation, as well as the Philippines’ bid for observer status in the OIC, and the welfare of the more than one million Filipino workers in the kingdom, especially those on death row.

“Pardons for those in jail are often granted during the holy month of Ramadan,” the DFA said.

According to Remonde, Mrs. Arroyo said that she scrapped her New York visit due to possible conflict in schedule, particularly, her meeting with the King.

“The President thought that there would be more benefits the country could get in meeting the King of Saudi Arabia than attending the UN General Assembly in New York,” he said.

Chief News Editor: Sol Jose Vanzi

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