Oct 112014
 

http://wikileaks.org/cable/2008/02/08KUALALUMPUR94.html#
Reference ID Created Released Classification Origin
08KUALALUMPUR94
2008-02-14 08:53
2011-08-30 01:44
SECRET
Embassy Kuala Lumpur

VZCZCXRO7888
PP RUEHCHI RUEHDT RUEHHM RUEHNH
DE RUEHKL #0094/01 0450853
ZNY SSSSS ZZH
P 140853Z FEB 08
FM AMEMBASSY KUALA LUMPUR
TO RUEHC/SECSTATE WASHDC PRIORITY 0534
INFO RUCNASE/ASEAN MEMBER COLLECTIVE PRIORITY
RUEHBY/AMEMBASSY CANBERRA PRIORITY 2465
RUEHKO/AMEMBASSY TOKYO PRIORITY 2491
RUEKJCS/SECDEF WASHDC PRIORITY
RHHMUNA/CDR USPACOM HONOLULU HI PRIORITY
S E C R E T SECTION 01 OF 02 KUALA LUMPUR 000094

SIPDIS

SIPDIS

FOR EAP

E.O. 12958: DECL: 02/14/2018
TAGS: PREL PGOV PINR PTER MOPS EAID KISL JA RP MY
SUBJECT: EARLY FEBRUARY PROXIMITY TALKS BETWEEN PHILIPPINES AND MILF

REF: A. MANILA 238 – ARROYO REVISES MILF PEACE PROPOSAL

¶B. KUALA LUMPUR 4 – AMBASSADOR MEETS DPM NAJIB

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

Summary
——-

¶1. (S) Malaysian facilitator for the Philippines (GRP)/Moro
Islamic Liberation Front (MILF) peace talks Othman Abdul
Razak held proximity talks between GRP and MILF negotiators
in early February, following the failure of the December 2007
round. Othman and the MILF regretted that the GRP side was
not empowered to discuss “governance” issues. Othman said
treatment of “self-determination” was the key sticking point,
and this might be resolved through a secret codicil. Othman
proposed but did not have agreement yet on another executive
session on February 18. He noted an up-tick in violence in
Mindanao since December. After the December talks fizzled,
Malaysia had given notice to the GRP that Malaysia could
withdraw its International Monitoring Team (IMT) members at
any time if Manila were not serious in the negotiations.
Othman spoke positively about possible expanded Japanese
participation in the IMT, and he suggested Japan, Malaysia
and the U.S. as potential guarantors of a future peace
agreement. Othman said that earlier he had relayed
information from Embassy Manila DCM to the MILF clarifying
the humanitarian nature of the Balikatan exercise in the
southern Philippines, thereby helping to correct
misunderstanding among MILF commanders. End Summary.

Peace Process
————-

¶2. (C) During a 90-minute meeting with polchief on February
10, Othman explained that he had conducted executive sessions
between GRP and MILF negotiators on February 1-2 in Kuala
Lumpur. These sessions, which took the form of proximity
talks, were the first since the collapse of the December 2007
round. The GRP delegation did not arrive empowered to
discuss the governance issues, a critical area in Othman’s
view. Othman and the MILF did not believe the process could
move forward to the signing of an interim memorandum without
addressing the governance “strand.” While not authorized to
discuss such issues, the GRP delegation agreed to go back to
Manila with ideas for consideration in the governance area.
(Comment: Philippine contacts told Embassy Manila that they
would seek Cabinet approval for some reference to self
governance in the territorial agreement currently under
debate, but suggested it was the MILF’s strong objection to
discussing related constitutional issues that kept self
governance off the agenda. End Comment.)

¶3. (S) At the heart of the governance issue, Othman
explained, is treatment of “self-determination,” a term
included in several previous documents signed by the two
sides. GRP fears that use of “self-determination” creates a
“small loophole” for the MILF to press for independence. The
MILF for its part believes it must keep the term in the
agreement in order to assuage hard-liners and not appear to
be backsliding. Othman stated that one possible solution
would be the signing of a secret codicil, which would clarify
that self-determination must take place within the Republic
of the Philippines and does not represent an option for
independence. As in past meetings, Othman referred to Moro
independence as “not viable” and “not realistic.”

¶4. (C) Othman proposed that the GRP and MILF meet again for
an executive session on February 18, but the two sides had
not yet confirmed. Othman said his best-case scenario would
have the two sides prepared to sign the interim document by
late March or early April, but he did not express particular
confidence this would come about.

¶5. (C) In response to polchief’s query, Othman noted an
up-tick in violence in Mindanao since December, including
bombing of electricity transmission towers. When asked who
was responsible, he said, “the MILF should not and would not
claim responsibility,” and if the MILF started to acknowledge
such acts it would be a signal the negotiations were over.

¶6. (C) Polchief asked for confirmation that Malaysia’s
current commitment to the International Monitoring Team (IMT)
runs through August 2008. Othman responded that after the
failure of the December round, Malaysia “gave notice” to the

KUALA LUMP 00000094 002 OF 002

GRP that Malaysia could withdraw its IMT members at any time
if there were not sufficient progress in the talks. Othman
stated that Malaysia had no interest in helping the
Philippines Armed Forces maintain a cease-fire with the MILF
if the Philippines government were not serious about a
negotiated solution.

¶7. (C) Polchief raised Japan’s involvement in Mindanao.
(Comment: A Japanese diplomat informed us that a delegation
from Tokyo had visited Kuala Lumpur in January, in part to
discuss Mindanao and the peace process. End Comment.)
Othman said he welcomed a greater Japanese role in Mindanao,
including more development funding and Japanese engagement
with MILF’s economic development arm. Othman also spoke
positively about the possibility that Japanese Self Defense
Force members might join the IMT, and said the MILF likely
would approve of this.

¶8. (C) Othman stated that an eventual peace agreement should
include international guarantors to help ensure
implementation and instill confidence in the MILF. He noted
Malaysia and Japan for such a role, and “possibly” the United
States.

Balikatan
———

¶9. (C) At the request of Embassy Manila, polchief provided
Othman with written background information on the current
Balikatan joint military exercise in the Philippines. Othman
said that following an earlier communication from Embassy
Manila DCM he (Othman) had immediately provided the MILF with
clarification as to the humanitarian nature of Balikatan in
the southern Philippines. Othman said some MILF commanders,
including “Commander Bravo,” originally had misunderstood the
nature of the Balikatan activities and had felt threatened.

Comment
——-

¶10. (C) Othman continues to work away at the talks, despite
his disappointment with the December round. He appeared
fairly firm that the GRP must also address governance issues
at this stage of the negotiations. While Malaysia has not
gone through with repeated past threats to walk away, we have
heard Malaysia’s frustrations over the lack of progress and
impatience with the IMT’s prolonged mission from other senior
Malaysian government officials, including from Deputy Prime
Minister/Defense Minister Najib Tun Razak (ref B.).
KEITH

   

 

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