Oct 222014
 

http://wikileaks.org/cable/2009/11/09MANILA2423.html#
Reference ID Created Released Classification Origin
09MANILA2423
2009-11-20 04:25
2011-08-30 01:44
CONFIDENTIAL
Embassy Manila

VZCZCXRO3417
OO RUEHCHI RUEHCN RUEHDT RUEHHM
DE RUEHML #2423/01 3240425
ZNY CCCCC ZZH
O 200425Z NOV 09
FM AMEMBASSY MANILA
TO RUEHC/SECSTATE WASHDC IMMEDIATE 5832
INFO RUEHZS/ASSOCIATION OF SOUTHEAST ASIAN NATIONS IMMEDIATE
RHHMUNA/CDRUSPACOM HONOLULU HI IMMEDIATE
RUEAIIA/CIA WASHDC IMMEDIATE
RUEKDIA/DIA WASHDC IMMEDIATE
RUEKJCS/SECDEF WASHDC IMMEDIATE
C O N F I D E N T I A L SECTION 01 OF 03 MANILA 002423

SIPDIS

E.O. 12958: DECL: 11/19/2019
TAGS: PGOV PREL PINS KISL RP
SUBJECT: MILF WELCOMES EAP A/S CAMPBELL LETTER

REF: A. MANILA 2391 (KIDNAPPERS RELEASE IRISH PRIEST)
¶B. MANILA 2097 (PROPOSED USG REPLY TO MILF LETTER
TO PRESIDENT OBAMA)

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

¶1. (C) SUMMARY: EAP DAS Marciel and the DCM met two senior
members of the southern Philippines’ rebel group Moro Islamic
Liberation Front (MILF) November 6 to talk about the group’s
peace process with the Philippine government and to deliver a
letter for MILF Chairman Murad from EAP A/S Campbell
reaffirming U.S. support for peace talks. The two senior
members, Vice Chairman for Information Mohagher Iqbal and
Senior Peace Panel Member Michael Mastura, expressed
appreciation for the letter’s clear statement of U.S. policy,
said the MILF would continue to adhere to the peace process,
and sought greater U.S. pressure on the Philippine government
to move the peace process forward. They denied MILF
involvement in the October kidnapping of an Irish missionary,
and stated the MILF had no ties to terrorists. Separately,
in a discussion later that day, DAS Marciel shared a copy of
the A/S Campbell letter with Philippine Peace Panel Chairman
Rafael Seguis, who provided a brief update on plans to resume
formal peace talks, the assistance provided to internally
displaced persons, and the kidnapping incident (which has
since been resolved). END SUMMARY.

POLICY LETTER DELIVERED TO MILF
——————————-

¶2. (C) Visiting EAP DAS Marciel and the DCM met November 6 in
a Manila hotel with Moro Islamic Liberation Front (MILF) Vice
Chairman for Information Mohagher Iqbal and Senior Peace
Panel Member Michael Mastura to discuss the Mindanao peace
process and deliver a letter from EAP A/S Campbell to MILF
Chairman Murad Ebrahim, reiterating U.S. support for peace
(see para. 8). Iqbal, who said he rarely enters Manila’s
urban areas out of concern for his safety, thanked the DAS
for the letter and expressed the MILF’s continued support for
a peaceful settlement of the group’s conflict with the
government. He expressed deep concern about some Philippine
officials’ penchant for inflammatory, anti-MILF rhetoric, as
illustrated by Interior Secretary Ronaldo Puno’s comments
alleging MILF involvement in the October kidnapping of Irish
missionary Michael Sinnott. Mastura noted positively that
statements from Washington such as A/S Campbell’s letter made
MILF field commanders less skeptical of international support
for a peaceful settlement. Mastura added that he and Iqbal
later that day would attend an MILF “all commanders meeting”
at Camp Darapanan near Cotabato City.

¶3. (C) As informal peace talks advanced, Iqbal said the MILF
was reaching out to peace experts in London and Belfast and
had maintained a dialogue with Sinn Fein, from whom they
surmised that the disarmament, demobilization, and
reintegration (DDR) approach favored by the Philippine
government was “not the way” for the MILF. Although the
group would adhere to the peace process, Iqbal said that the
MILF sought additional U.S. pressure on the Philippine
government to help “settle” the peace issue. DAS Marciel
noted that the U.S. was looking at ways to continue our
support for the parties in their quest for prosperity and
peace, including development projects. However, the U.S.
remained concerned about the MILF leadership’s possible lack
of control over elements involved in terrorist activities.
Mastura assured that the MILF were “not in the least
terrorists,” an had, in fact, “confronted” terrorism.

GOVERNMET WELCOMES LETTER
————————–

¶4. (C) In a meeting at the Department of Foreign Affairs
directly following the MILF meeting, DAS Marciel provided GRP
Peace Panel Chairman Undersecretary Rafael Seguis with a copy
of A/S Campbell’s letter to the MILF. DAS Marciel explained
that the letter reaffirmed U.S. support for the peace
process, our commitment to Philippine territorial integrity,
and the need for the MILF to dissociate itself from
terrorists — points that closely resembled the content of a
2003 letter from then-EAP A/S Kelly. DAS Marciel said that
the U.S. wanted to be supportive in the peace process to help
unleash the potential of Mindanao, and would continue to be
supportive wherever possible. Regarding the potential for
U.S. participation in the International Contact Group (ICG),
he said that the U.S. would be comfortable with whatever
decision the parties made.

¶5. (C) Seguis voiced appreciation for the letter and said
that the parties would further discuss plans for the ICG at a

MANILA 00002423 002 OF 003

November 16 meeting in Kuala Lumpur, to be followed by a
discussion on the format of formal peace talks and the
relaunching of the International Monitoring Team under new
terms of reference. While the Philippine government had
wanted the U.S. to be a member of the ICG, Seguis said, the
MILF was opposed to U.S. participation. Seguis hoped that
prospective ICG member The Asia Foundation — as a U.S.-based
organization — could help ensure that the U.S. view would be
represented. The Philippine government still hoped to reach
a negotiated settlement before the end of President Arroyo’s
term and expected to resume formal talks in December. The
government continued to assist internally displaced persons
to return to their home communities and aimed to complete the
process by January or February, although Seguis noted that
some IDPs remained worried about their personal security
despite the enduring ceasefire. He admitted that there was
“no prior coordination” on government statements about
alleged MILF involvement in the Sinnott kidnapping; Interior
Secretary Puno was speaking only for himself when he accused
the MILF. For his part, Seguis said he was “convinced” that
MILF leadership had nothing to do with the kidnapping.

COMMENT
——-

¶6. (C) The MILF members were pleased to receive the written
U.S. affirmation of support for the peace process and
implied, as they have in the past, that such written
statements are extremely important to them — possibly for
demonstrating to anxious and skeptical MILF field commanders
that the U.S. supports a peaceful settlement. Seguis
expressed appreciation for the USG informing him about U.S.
discussions with the MILF — which he accepted, as long as it
did not give the appearance of “paying homage” to the MILF
leadership. End Comment.

¶7. (U) DAS Marciel did not have an opportunity to clear this
cable.

¶8. (SBU) Text of the undated letter from A/S Campbell to MILF
Chairman Murad Ebrahim:

Dear Chairman Murad,

Thank you for your letter of November 21, 2008 to President
Obama congratulating him on his election. We appreciate your
thoughtful outreach and your desire to seek clarification
about United States policy toward the conflict in Mindanao.

Current United States policy on the Mindanao conflict adheres
closely to the points expressed in then-Assistant Secretary
James Kelly’s letter of June 18, 2003. I would like to
reassure you that:

— The United States Government is committed to the
territorial integrity of the Republic of the Philippines.

— The United States recognizes that the Muslims of the
southern Philippines have serious, legitimate grievances that
must be addressed.

— As a concerned observer of the peace process, the United
States firmly believes that a peaceful solution to the
conflict in Mindanao is the only durable solution. We
support and encourage the efforts of both parties to enforce
their ceasefires and work toward a resumption of peace talks.

— The United States remains concerned that the Moro Islamic
Liberation Front has not completely severed its links with
international terrorist organizations, and asks that the MILF
dissolve those links immediately.

— The United States stands ready to support a bona fide
peace process between the Republic of the Philippines and the
MILF through political and financial means, including
continued support for livelihood and development programs for
the people of Mindanao. The United States Government,
through our Embassy in Manila, will stay in close touch as
this process moves forward.

— The United States appreciates the notable work that the
Government of Malaysia has performed in connection with the
peace process, and will continue to work with the Malaysians
for a successful peace settlement.

A confluence of wills to attain a lasting peace has led both
sides to this important moment; ceasefires appear to be
holding and the parties are laying a foundation for new peace
talks. There is now, once again, an opportunity to craft a

MANILA 00002423 003 OF 003

peace that can last for generations to come and that will
benefit all the people of the Philippines. I strongly
believe that the Muslim people of Mindanao can have a future
that is both peaceful and prosperous.

Sincerely yours,

Kurt M. Campbell

KENNEY

   

 

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