GMA off for Saudi State Visit; Trip Will Focus on Energy Cooperation

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Byline: DAVID CAGAHASTIAN

Will attend wedding rites at Macau stop-over

President Arroyo will leave at 8:30 a.m. today for a state visit to the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia with a brief stop-over in Macau.

Malacanang said Mrs. Arroyo's state visit to Saudi Arabia will focus on energy cooperation between the Philippines and Saudi Arabia, as fears continue to linger over the the rising prices of imported oil on which the Philippines is dependent for much of its energy needs.

Together with the First Gentleman, Atty. Jose Miguel Arroyo, the President will leave this morning for Macau where she will meet at noon with Chief Executive Edmund Ho of the Macau Special Administrative Region.

This afternoon at 4 p.m., she will be the principal sponsor at the church wedding of Undersecretary of Trade and Industry Carissa Cruz and businessman Juju Evangelista at the Our Lady of Mt. Carmel Church.

The First Couple will be joined Sunday morning by the rest of the Philippine delegation in flying to Saudi Arabia. In the delegation are Secretary of Foreign Affairs Alberto Romulo, Secretary of Trade and Industry Peter Favila, Secretary of Energy Raphael Lotilla, and a business group.

Mrs. Arroyo's May 7-10 state visit is the first to be made by an Asian nonMuslim woman head of state after the death of King Fahd in August, 2005.

During her visit, she is expected to push for better oil deals, enhanced working conditions for overseas Filipino workers (OFWs), and push for the Philippines' admission to the Organization of the Islamic Conference (OIC).

On her arrival in Saudi Arabia on Sunday afternoon, Mrs. …