February 19, 2018 / 2:09 PM / a month ago

Kuwait invites Philippine president to visit amid workers row

KUWAIT (Reuters) - Kuwait has invited Philippine President Rodrigo Duterte to visit, state news agency KUNA said on Monday, as the countries seek to settle their differences over allegations of extreme abuse of migrant workers in the wealthy Gulf state.

Philippine President Rodrigo Duterte arrives for the 19th Association of Southeast Asian Nations (ASEAN)-Republic of Korea Summit on the sidelines of the 31st ASEAN Summit and Related summits at the Philippine International Convention Center (PICC) in Manila, Philippines November 13, 2017. REUTERS/Noel Celis/Pool

After the body of a Filipino was discovered in a freezer in a Kuwait apartment, Duterte arranged free flights for workers wishing to leave - an evacuation that Kuwait said was an unnecessary escalation of a diplomatic rift.

The Philippines suspended sending workers to Kuwait in January after reports that abuse by employers had driven several to suicide.

Kuwait’s Deputy Foreign Minister Khalid al-Jarallah said on Monday that the two countries had agreed to sign a deal to regulate working conditions.

“We proposed to the Philippine authorities to resolve and contain these issues and not to escalate them in the media. There was agreement on this ... and we received a response,” he was quoted as saying.

Two planes full of workers arrived in Manila from Kuwait last week on flights provided for free by commercial airlines at the president’s request. The Philippine labour minister has said more than 2,200 Filipinos were ready to take up the offer to be repatriated.

It was not immediately clear if Duterte had accepted Kuwait’s invitation for him to visit in early March.

Reporting by Ahmed Hegagy; Writing by Stephen Kalin; Editing by Robin Pomeroy

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