Turkey joins new observer team between Moro Muslims, Philippines

Muslim group and the Philippines signed an agreement to form a new foreign observer team, government and Muslim leaders said on Wednesday.

Turkey joins new observer team between Moro Muslims, Philippines

Muslim group and the Philippines signed an agreement to form a new foreign observer team, government and Muslim leaders said on Wednesday.

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.

Under the agreement signed on Tuesday, foreign officials and experts will be invited to oversee the negotiations and make sure both sides honour any final peace deal, Mohaqher Iqbal, the MILF chief negotiator said.

"We are one step closer to resuming formal negotiations to end the conflict in the southern Philippines," Iqbal said in a text message to Reuters.

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.

Camilo Montesa, spokesman for the government's peace panel, described the deal to create the contact group as a breakthrough in efforts to restart talks stalled for nearly 12 months after Philippines's top court barred the peace deal in August 2008. the Supreme Court annuled a deal to expand Muslim autonomy in ancestral lands.

"The ICG will aid in building consensus that will effectively enable them to exert proper leverage and to sustain the interest of the parties, as well as maintain a level of comfort that restores mutual trust," Montesa said in a statement.

Based on the agreement, states belonging to the Organisation of the Islamic Conference (OIC) and the European Union, including the United Kingdom, Turkey and Saudi Arabia would be part of the new international body, he added.

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.


Agencies

Last Mod: 16 Eylül 2009, 14:46
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