Brunei to send more monitors to Philippine over peace talks

Brunei will send more peace monitors to southern Philippines, officials said.

Brunei to send more monitors to Philippine over peace talks

Brunei will send more peace monitors to southern Philippines, officials said on Friday, to help reduce skirmishes between the military and southern Muslim group MILF and move a stalled peace process forward.

The decision followed a request from Manila to the Brunei sultanate to expand its role in the peace process in Mindanao in the south, mainly Muslim region.

"They agreed and they're very happy," Economic Planning Secretary Ralph Recto said following a meeting between the visiting Sultan Hassanal Bolkiah of Brunei and Philippine President Gloria Macapagal Arroyo.

The Philippines has been asking neighbouring Muslim states to help restart peace talks with the country's largest Muslim group, Moro Islamic Liberation Front (MILF), after negotiations bogged down after the top court cancelled the peace deal between the sided over an aborted territory in 2008.

Since March 2001, Kuala Lumpur has been brokering the nearly 12 years of on-off negotiations between Manila and the Muslim group. The Malaysians also headed the 60-member international monitoring team overseeing a truce imposed in 2003.

Brunei, Libya and Japan are part of the monitoring team.

Recto said Brunei had committed to increase the number of its peace monitors on Mindanao from 10 to 30 unarmed troops. "They will play a more important role. They will probably lead it, that's my understanding," he said.

Fighting escalated in August 2008 after the Philippines' top court stopped the signing of an ancestral land agreement between Manila and the MILF in Kuala Lumpur. More than 300 people have died and 750,000 were displaced in the five-month conflict.

On Wednesday, Manila sent its peace panel to Kuala Lumpur to inform the Malaysians it was ready to resume talks to end the conflict that has killed 120,000 people and stunted growth in resource-rich Mindanao.

Reuters
Last Mod: 31 Ocak 2009, 11:29
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