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Cablegate: Mnlf Delegation Discusses Peace Process

VZCZCXRO3727
OO RUEHCHI RUEHDT RUEHHM
DE RUEHML #2509/01 2080133
ZNR UUUUU ZZH
O 270133Z JUL 07
FM AMEMBASSY MANILA
TO RUEHC/SECSTATE WASHDC IMMEDIATE 7574
INFO RUEHZS/ASSOCIATION OF SOUTHEAST ASIAN NATIONS IMMEDIATE
RUEHJI/AMCONSUL JEDDAH IMMEDIATE 0343
RUEKJCS/SECDEF WASHDC IMMEDIATE
RUEAIIA/CIA WASHDC IMMEDIATE
RHHMUNA/CDRUSPACOM HONOLULU HI IMMEDIATE

UNCLAS SECTION 01 OF 02 MANILA 002509

SIPDIS

SIPDIS

E.O. 12958: N/A
TAGS: PREL PGOV PINS RP
SUBJECT: MNLF DELEGATION DISCUSSES PEACE PROCESS

REF: A. MANILA 2342
B. MANILA 1701

1. (SBU) Summary. At their request, senior representatives
of detained Moro National Liberation Front (MNLF) Chairman
Nur Misuari met with DCM and poloff at the Embassy June 23 to
promote the 1996 Final Peace Agreement as the foundation for
peace, security, and development in Mindanao. Frustrated and
disappointed over repeated postponements of a conference to
review implementation of the 1996 agreement, the delegates
appealed for U.S. assistance in fast tracking full
implementation of the nearly 11-year old peace accord.
Misuari's chief spokesman, Almarin Tillah, optimistically
speculated that MNLF and Moro Islamic Liberation Front forces
would be consolidated when complete autonomy was achieved.
DCM welcomed the delegation's visit and affirmed U.S. support
for implementation of the 1996 agreement. End Summary.


2. (SBU) Detained Moro National Liberation Front (MNLF)
Chairman Nur Misuari sent a seven-person delegation to the
Embassy July 23 to discuss the Mindanao peace process.
Accompanying Misuari's chief spokesmen -- Philippines Muslim
Leader Forum Secretary-General Almarin Tillah and Attorney
Firdausi Abbas -- were Attorney Ombra Jainal, Attorney Yasser
B. Lumbos, Father Eliseo "Jun" Mercado, Jr., University of
the Philippines Institute of Islamic Studies Dean Mashur
Bin-Ghalib Jundam, and former Autonomous Region in Muslim
Mindanao Department of Transportation and Communication
Secretary Abdul Jalil Hassiman.

SIPDIS

3. (SBU) In his introductory remarks to DCM and poloff,
Almarin Tillah said Misuari remained the only legitimate MNLF
leader recognized by the 57-member Organization of the
Islamic Conference (OIC). Tillah claimed greater unity among
MNLF factions, and disagreed with the term "Misuari Breakaway
Group" in referring to Misuari and his followers. In
Tillah's view, the Council of Fifteen broke away from the
mainstream MNLF under Misuari and not vice versa.

4. (SBU) According to Jundam, the MNLF hierarchy currently
includes Vice-Chairman Jimmy Labawan, Secretary General
Ustadz Murshi Ibrahim, Secretary General of Foreign Relations
Abdulbaki Abubakar, and Chief of Staff Julhambre Misuari.
Attorney Abbas added that a Shariah Court, Bangsamoro
Congress, and the Bangsamoro forces were also under the MNLF
Central Committee.

5. (SBU) During an open and frank discussion, the MNLF
delegates promoted the 1996 Final Peace Agreement as the
foundation for peace, security, and development in Mindanao.
However, they expressed frustration and disappointment with
non-implementation of the nearly 11-year old peace agreement,
and repeated postponements of the tripartite conference
proposed for Jeddah, Saudi Arabia.

6. (SBU) Tillah and Abbas hoped the tripartite conference
could be held as soon as possible in Jeddah (vice Jakarta as
the government wants), ideally before the beginning of
Ramadan in September, to resolve "gaps" and "ambiguities" in
the final peace accord. Abbas noted that provisions for the
appointment of Muslims to the Philippine Supreme Court and
Cabinet, formation of a regional security force, and
"collapsing" of the Autonomous Region in Muslim Mindanao into
a "Bangsamoro Autonomous Government" have not been
implemented.

7. (SBU) Tillah stressed the importance of tackling these
issues at a tripartite conference on "neutral territory", and
disagreed with changing the venue from Saudi Arabia to
Indonesia or any other country within the Association of
Southeast Asian Nations (ASEAN).

8. (SBU) Tillah optimistically speculated that upon full
implementation of the 1996 peace accord, it would be
incumbent upon the Moro Islamic Liberation Front (MILF) to
consolidate its forces with the MNLF "whether they liked it
or not." While acknowledging that MNLF Chairman Misuari and
MILF Chairman Murad Ebrahim have yet to meet, Jundam said
MNLF and MILF Central Committee members are in regular
communication as "text mates." Jundam also mentioned that
the late MILF Chairman Salamat Hashim had told Misuari that
MILF forces would join the MNLF once full autonomy was
achieved.

9. (SBU) On behalf of Misuari, Tillah thanked the United
States for extending development assistance to the people of
Mindanao, and appealed for U.S. engagement with the OIC,
MNLF, and Government of the Philippines to "fast track" full

MANILA 00002509 002 OF 002


implementation of the final peace agreement. Jundam said the
U.S. could play a particularly useful role in helping
establish a monitoring mechanism.

10. (SBU) DCM stressed U.S. support for the peace process and
described Embassy's multi-faceted approach to promoting peace
and development in Mindanao. DCM also highlighted President
Bush's initiative to appoint a special envoy to the OIC, the
importance of a continuing dialogue between the MNLF and
Emboffs, and U.S. support for the implementation of the 1996
agreement.

Comment:

11. (SBU) This July 20 meeting was our first engagement with
a delegation of such senior MNLF representatives. Although
we made no commitments, we intend to pursue a dialogue with
the MNLF to improve the prospects for lasting peace in
Mindanao.

Visit Embassy Manila's Classified SIPRNET website:
http://www.state.sgov.gov/p/eap/manila/index. cfm

You can also access this site through the State Department's
Classified SIPRNET website:
http://www.state.sgov.gov/
KENNEY

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