Oct 092014
 

http://wikileaks.org/cable/2006/12/06KUALALUMPUR2235.html#
Reference ID Created Released Classification Origin
06KUALALUMPUR2235
2006-12-08 10:40
2011-08-30 01:44
SECRET
Embassy Kuala Lumpur

VZCZCXRO0051
OO RUEHCHI RUEHDT RUEHHM
DE RUEHKL #2235/01 3421040
ZNY SSSSS ZZH
O 081040Z DEC 06
FM AMEMBASSY KUALA LUMPUR
TO RUEHC/SECSTATE WASHDC IMMEDIATE 8083
INFO RUEHZS/ASSOCIATION OF SOUTHEAST ASIAN NATIONS IMMEDIATE
RUEHBY/AMEMBASSY CANBERRA PRIORITY 2243
RUEKJCS/SECDEF WASHDC PRIORITY
RHHMUNA/CDR USPACOM HONOLULU HI PRIORITY
S E C R E T SECTION 01 OF 02 KUALA LUMPUR 002235

SIPDIS

SIPDIS

DEPT FOR EAP

E.O. 12958: DECL: 12/08/2026
TAGS: PREL PINS PTER MOPS EAID KISL RP MY
SUBJECT: DAS JOHN FINDS MALAYSIAN BROKER OPTIMISTIC ON MILF PEACE PROCESS

REF: A. KUALA LUMPUR 1525 – MALAYSIAN VIEWS OF TALKS
¶B. KUALA LUMPUR 1812 – TALKS “DEADLOCKED”
¶C. KUALA LUMPUR 2159 – MFA ON MINDANAO

Classified By: Political Section Chief Mark D. Clark for reasons 1.4 (b
and d).

Summary
——-

¶1. (S) Visiting EAP DAS Eric John on December 6 found
Malaysian facilitator Othman Abdul Razak “more optimistic”
following the latest informal talks between the Philippines
Government (GRP)/Moro Islamic Liberation Front (MILF). In
meetings held in Kuala Lumpur the week of November 27, GRP
clarifications succeeded in reducing MILF skepticism
regarding the new GRP proposal, Othman said, with MILF
negotiators generally “quite happy” with the construct of
self- determination. MILF still had concerns regarding
territorial boundaries of the “Bangsa Moro State,” with
Manila’s current offer seen as a reduction from previous
proposals, and secondarily regarding inconsistent
terminology. Othman anticipated two more informal sessions,
the next in January, followed by a signing of a formal
agreement on ancestral domain in May and possible conclusion
of the full Compact by September 2007. DAS John explained
increased U.S. engagement in the peace process through
AmEmbassy Manila and U.S. commitment to helping a deal
succeed, and commended Malaysia’s role. Othman urged U.S.
political support to fend off opponents to the eventual deal
and reiterated his call for capacity building to prepare MILF
leaders for civilian roles. End Summary.

GRP Offers “New Thinking”
————————-

¶2. (S) DAS John, accompanied by DCM and polchief, called on
Othman December 6 in Kuala Lumpur and expressed appreciation
for Malaysia’s continued role in facilitating the GRP-MILF
talks. John asked Othman about the MILF’s reaction to the
latest GRP proposal involving self-determination. Othman
admitted he had been deeply pessimistic following the
disappointing September round (ref B), as the process had
“bogged down in details” after achieving easy, superficial
consensus earlier in the year. Hope had rested with a new
offer out of Manila. The GRP consulted with international
lawyers on key constitutional questions and after almost
three months produced a new proposal of only one and a half
pages. Nevertheless, the GRP proposal on self-determination
represented “new thinking.”

“Quite Happy” with Self-Determination
————————————-

¶3. (S) Othman described the MILF’s reaction to the new offer
as “skeptical” prior to the latest informal talks held in
Kuala Lumpur the week of November 27. In the latest round,
however, GRP negotiators responded to MILF questions and
concerns. Following GRP clarifications, the MILF appeared
“quite happy” regarding the concept of self-determination
within a Bangsa Moro state that remains within the sovereign
nation of the Philippines. This construct would avoid
potential constitutional obstacles. The timeline for
creating the Bangsa Moro state by 2010 also appeared
acceptable to the MILF. Othman said the GRP offer and the
MILF’s reaction were “quite something” and represented
progress. “I’m more optimistic now,” Othman stated.

Concerns over Territory, Terminology
————————————

¶4. (S) The MILF side still had important concerns that
required resolution, particularly on territory. Othman
implied that the GRP’s latest approach of delineating the
Bangsa Moro territory on a geographical basis, rather than
thru a census, appeared a practical way forward as it avoided
controversy regarding displaced populations. However, the
MILF saw the latest GRP offer on territorial boundaries as a
reduction in the area of the future state compared with
previous offers. The MILF sought a “slightly bigger area”
that incorporated southern Zamboanga, Basilan Island and two
island chains in the Sulu Archipelago. Secondarily, the MILF
questioned inconsistency in some terminology in the new GRP
offer, including various uses of “municipality” and
“barangay” (village).

Next Steps, Timeline

KUALA LUMP 00002235 002 OF 002

——————–

¶5. (S) As next steps, Othman stated the GRP and MILF now
must work out acceptable solutions in the areas of territory
and terminology. They also must prepare the Framework Law
and the Moro Basic Law. Othman foresaw two more informal
negotiations in the coming months, the first to be held in
January. These would lead to the preparation and signing of
the first formal agreement, on ancestral domain, in May.
Finalization of the full Compact appeared possible by
September 2007. Othman laughingly noted, however, that a
peace agreement always seemed “six months away.”

U.S. Needed to Back Deal and Arroyo
———————————–

¶6. (S) Othman said the U.S. could play a critical role in
backing the peace agreement as components became public.
Until now, GRP-MILF negotiations had been informal and
largely out of the public view. When details of an agreement
began to emerge, as they would with the first ancestral
domain agreement, President Arroyo would be placed “on the
defensive.” Arroyo was “weak,” Othman argued, and would need
political and moral support from the U.S. and the
international community to fend off opposition to an
agreement.

¶7. (S) U.S. funding would be key for advocacy efforts in the
Philippines, Othman said, in order to explain and sell the
terms to both the Philippines nation and the Moro people. In
addition, the U.S. should invest in capacity building for
MILF leaders, even before a deal is signed, so the MILF is
ready to govern in peacetime. Othman reiterated his call for
support to the Bangsa Moro leadership institute in Cotabato
City, including the provision of international teachers.
Othman said the EU was ready to provide funding of some
activities in advance of the peace agreement. He also noted
discussions of aid from Sweden, Japan and the OIC. Countries
would need to invest in peace agreement implementation to
make this a durable peace and avoid the setbacks experienced
by the previous MNLF accord.

Highlighting U.S. Commitment, IMT
———————————

¶8. (S) DAS John highlighted the strong U.S. commitment to
the peace process, which featured active engagement by
AmEmbassy Manila, including direct contacts with the MILF,
and political backing of the GRP to reach a deal. The U.S.
effort also included a significant, multi-year assistance
program on Mindanao. In addition, the U.S. would be prepared
to assist with MILF reintegration. DAS John commended
Malaysia for its continued commitment to the International
Monitoring Team (IMT) and asked about new international
contributions. Othman spoke positively concerning the
addition of three Swedish and one Japanese IMT members. DAS
John encouraged Othman to remain in close contact with U.S.
diplomats as the peace process continued.

Comment
——-

¶9. (S) Othman’s comments constituted a 180 degree change in
his expressed outlook since the failed September 6-7 round.
The Malaysian facilitator notably continued to place the onus
for compromise on Manila rather than the MILF, while
recognizing that the GRP’s “new thinking” represented
progress toward a final peace agreement.
LAFLEUR

   

 

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