World Bulletin / News Desk
Filipino President Gloria Macapagal Arroyo, who is on a working visit to Turkey met Thursday with Organization of the Islamic Conference (OIC) SG Ekmeleddin Ihsanoglu.
Anadolu news agency quoted a press release issued by the OIC as saying Arroyo and Ihsanoglu discussed the peace talks between Filipino government and Moro Muslims with the mediation of OIC.
Muslim group and the Philippines signed an agreement to form a new foreign observer team, that Turkey also was included.
Talks between the Moro Islamic Liberation Front (MILF), which demands for thier homeland for Muslims in the south, have been stalled since last year. In July the two sides agreed on a truce, opening the way for resumption of talks.
The agreement on setting up an international contact group was reached at an informal meeting between MILF representatives and the government in Kuala Lumpur, which has been facilitating the talks since March 2001.
The two also discussed the Phillipines' bid to become observer to OIC.
In the OIC 36th meeting of foreign ministers, held in Damascus, Turkey led the group of countries which opposed the Philippine bid for observer status. The Kingdom of Saudi Arabia, Iran, and Yemen strongly supported the Turkey's position.
The population of Muslims is about 12 million. Between the years 1450 and 1515, two Islamic principalities were founded on the islands of Sulu and Mindanao. Islam came to the Philippines in the 13th century 200 years before Christianity did.