RI ready to mediate peace deal in the Phillipines
Bagus BT Saragih
The Jakarta Post
Foreign Minister Marty Natalegawa said on Monday that the Indonesian government was ready to facilitate another peace talk as conflicts between military soldiers and armed rebels in the southern Philippines has deteriorated, killing dozens and displacing thousands.
'As of today, no formal request has been received. As part of the peace committee of the OIC (Organization of Islamic Cooperation), however, Indonesia is always ready to facilitate peace talks,' Marty told The Jakarta Post at the State Palace.
'Nevertheless, it would depend on all related parties on whether they need such mediation,' he added.
Philippine troops have started to battle their way into coastal villages in the south where Muslim rebels have held scores of residents hostage in a six-day standoff, sparking fierce clashes that have killed 56 people and displaced more than 60,000, officials said on Saturday as reported by the Associated Press.
Interior Secretary Mar Roxas said the Philippine government forces surrounding about 200 fighters from a Moro National Liberation Front (MNLF) rebel faction had started to advance and slowly retake rebel-held areas and clear roads in villages in the coastal outskirts of Zamboanga, a major port city.
Military spokesman Lt.Col.Ramon Zagala said the offensive was 'calibrated' to protect a still-unspecified number of hostages still held by the rebels.
Over the past two decades, Indonesia has facilitated the peace process between the Philippine government and the MNLF.
Between 1994 and 2002, it sent the Garuda Contingent (Konga XVII) under the framework of the OIC peace process.
'As a neighbor and facilitator of the Final Peace Agreement between the Philippine government and the MNLF in 1996, Indonesia is calling on all parties to show restraint and ensure the safety of civilians,' said Marty in a previous written statement.
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