Oct 222014
 

http://wikileaks.org/cable/2009/11/09MANILA2429.html#
Reference ID Created Released Classification Origin
09MANILA2429
2009-11-20 08:31
2011-08-30 01:44
CONFIDENTIAL
Embassy Manila

VZCZCXRO3646
OO RUEHCHI RUEHCN RUEHDT RUEHHM
DE RUEHML #2429/01 3240831
ZNY CCCCC ZZH
O 200831Z NOV 09
FM AMEMBASSY MANILA
TO RUEHC/SECSTATE WASHDC IMMEDIATE 5847
INFO RUEHZS/ASSOCIATION OF SOUTHEAST ASIAN NATIONS IMMEDIATE
RUEHAK/AMEMBASSY ANKARA IMMEDIATE 0070
RUEHLO/AMEMBASSY LONDON IMMEDIATE 3498
RUEHRH/AMEMBASSY RIYADH IMMEDIATE 0788
RUEHKO/AMEMBASSY TOKYO IMMEDIATE 3747
RUEKJCS/SECDEF WASHDC IMMEDIATE
RHHMUNA/CDRUSPACOM HONOLULU HI IMMEDIATE
RUEAIIA/CIA WASHDC IMMEDIATE
RUEKDIA/DIA WASHDC IMMEDIATE
C O N F I D E N T I A L SECTION 01 OF 02 MANILA 002429

SIPDIS

E.O. 12958: DECL: 11/20/2019
TAGS: PGOV PREL PINS RP
SUBJECT: GOVERNMENT AND MILF FORMALIZE CONTACT GROUP, SEEK PEACE AGREEMENT BY FEBRUARY

REF: A. MANILA 2423 (MILF WELCOMES EAP A/S CAMPBELL
LETTER)
¶B. MANILA 2273 (GOVERNMENT AND INSURGENTS AGREE ON
FORMAL PEACE TALKS)

Classified By: Ambassador Kristie A. Kenney, reasons 1.4 (b) and (d).

¶1. (C) SUMMARY: Negotiators from the Philippine government
and Moro Islamic Liberation Front (MILF) peace panels at a
November 16 meeting in Kuala Lumpur formalized arrangements
for an international contact group (ICG) of countries and
organizations seeking to boost the peace process and offer
advice to the parties. Both sides reaffirmed their goal to
restart formal peace talks in early December and ambitiously
aimed for a comprehensive peace settlement by February.
Under uncharacteristically determined leadership by the
Malaysian facilitator, Datuk Othman, the parties agreed to
formally invite the UK, Japan, Turkey, and Saudi Arabia to
join the ICG, and to invite several non-governmental
organizations, including the Center for Humanitarian Dialogue
and The Asia Foundation. In separate meetings this week with
the Ambassador, the UK and Japanese ambassadors — who both
attended the Kuala Lumpur meeting — expressed discomfort
that the USG was not invited to join the ICG, and the
Japanese raised the issue with the Philippine side. The
Japanese ambassador also said that the MILF were “thrilled”
to receive the letter from A/S Campbell reaffirming U.S.
support for the peace process. END SUMMARY.

CONTACT GROUP FORMALIZED
————————

¶2. (C) At a productive November 16 meeting in Kuala Lumpur,
the Philippine government and Moro Islamic Liberation Front
peace panels agreed to invite four countries — the UK,
Japan, Saudi Arabia, and Turkey — to join the International
Contact Group (ICG) in support of peace talks, which the two
parties expected to resume formally on December 3. According
to a Philippine peace panel member, the UK and Japan still
needed permission from their capitals, and the Philippine
government planned to engage the Saudi and Turkish
governments to explain more fully what ICG participation
would entail. While the ICG’s terms of reference have yet to
be finalized, the UK and Japan shared a draft document with
the parties and the Malaysian facilitator, Datuk Othman. The
vague provisions of the draft, obtained by Post, describe the
ICG as a leaderless, ad hoc, but “issue-specific” group based
in Manila whose members would provide “impartial advice,”
“accept taskings” from the parties or facilitator, or “task
an NGO to perform a coordinating role.” The parties also
invited four non-governmental groups to join the ICG:
USG-grantee The Asia Foundation and the EU-funded Center for
Humanitarian Dialogue (CHD), well regarded for their
long-term involvement in Mindanao and technical support to
the peace process, as well as Muhammadiyah, Indonesia’s
second-largest Islamic mass organization, and the UK-based
Conciliation Resources, a group that works in conflict
resolution. The Asia Foundation and CHD accepted the
invitations.

UK SEEKS FLEXIBLE INVOLVEMENT IN ICG
————————————

¶3. (C) In a November 19 meeting with the Ambassador, British
Ambassador Stephen Lillie explained that the UK sought to
play a useful role in the ICG but would not fund formal
negotiations, which could advance quickly during two weeks of
planned negotiation in January and three weeks in February.
He said it felt “uncomfortable” that the USG was not
represented at the Kuala Lumpur meeting. The UK reserved the
right to reassess the role of ICG in the future, and Lillie
noted it was unclear if ICG members would always be invited
to attend negotiations between the parties. Still, he
expressed hope that the ICG would become a tool for reminding
Philippine politicians — including the next administration
— of promises made during peace talks. Lillie speculated
that Turkey did not have the resources to commit to the ICG,
and he had no information on what the Saudi’s interest was in
the ICG. Uneasy with a public announcement, Lillie said he
was surprised when the Philippine and Malaysian governments
sought his concurrence on a press release.

JAPAN SAYS MILF PLEASED WITH LETTER, FOCUSES ON MONITORING

MANILA 00002429 002 OF 002

——————————————— ————-

¶4. (C) Japanese Ambassador Makoto Katsura relayed to the
Ambassador November 20 that the MILF was “thrilled” with the
EAP A/S Campbell letter (ref A) and with the USG’s resumption
of contact with top-level MILF members. Echoing the UK’s
concerns, Katsura said he, too, was “uncomfortable” with the
USG’s absence at the Kuala Lumpur meeting and said he felt
strongly that peace would not happen without U.S.
involvement. He raised the issue on margins with Philippine
Peace Panel Chairman Rafael Seguis, who said that the MILF
did not want the USG on the ICG. Japan’s goal for the
meeting, Katsura said, was to have the parties focus on
renewing the mandate for the International Monitoring Team
(IMT), in which Japan had participated. However, with the
Philippines opposed to Malaysia’s bid to remain involved in
the IMT, Katsura admitted it was a difficult subject to
broach. Katsura offered to keep the Ambassador informed as
the work of the ICG progresses.

A PRODUCTIVE SESSION, AN EFFICIENT FACILITATOR
——————————————— –

¶5. (C) Ambassadors Lillie and Katsura noted that the
productive November 17 meeting proceeded with
uncharacteristic efficiency, largely due to the determined
efforts of Chief Facilitator Othman to strictly limit
discussions about historical injustice in Mindanao. Othman
performed his role in a professional manner and did not
appear, as he had in the past, to favor the MILF’s point of
view, a perception that had previously damaged his
credibility as a facilitator in the eyes of Philippine
negotiators.

COMMENT
——-

¶6. (C) The parties’ informal and productive November 17
meeting is providing additional momentum toward the
anticipated formal resumption of peace talks in December.
Othman’s professionalism and impartiality, as described by
the British and Japanese Ambassadors, may have contributed to
the meeting’s positive outcomes. It is unclear whether
Othman changed his modus operandi because of the two
Ambassadors’ presence. We trust these friendly Ambassadors
and our NGO contacts to keep us well informed about
developments with the ICG. Given continued uncertainty about
how the ICG will function, we do not regret that the MILF
opposed our membership in the ICG; in fact, given others’
limited resources and expertise, U.S. participation might
have given us disproportionate responsibility for the ICG’s
direction.

¶7. (C) Even with the small string of successes at informal
talks in recent months, serious questions remain about the
Philippine government’s ability to negotiate and obtain
public support for a comprehensive compact in the final
months of President Arroyo’s term. To do so without inciting
resentment from opposition politicians or triggering another
Supreme Court case that could negate the agreement will take
careful planning and maneuvering; some opposition voices are
already making themselves heard. President Arroyo and U/S
Seguis nonetheless remain optimistic that a peace agreement
can be achieved before President Arroyo leaves office, as
both of them underscored to Secretary Clinton during her
visit here Nov. 12-13.
KENNEY

   

 

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