The Jakarta Post
Defense Minister Ryamizard Ryacudu on Wednesday held an informal one-hour closed-door meeting with his Philippine counterpart Delfin N. Lorenzana in Bali to discuss the progress on efforts to free 10 Indonesian sailors held by the Abu Sayyaf group.
Ryamizard said the neighboring country was stepping up its campaign against Abu Sayyaf to achieve the release of the ten Indonesians, who are held hostage in the Sulu Islands region.
The militant group, deemed terrorists by Manila, reportedly brought the hostages to Sulu after the Philippine Army managed to clear Basiland Island of Abu Sayyaf members.
Aside from the military campaign, there was a negotiation process, which had received backing from Moro National Liberation Front (MNLF) founder Nur Misuari, Ryamizard said, adding that Philippine President Rodrigo Duterte would soon visit Indonesia to discuss the crisis.
"The Sulu governor is currently working with Misuari. The negotiations are progressing well. Unlike previous governors who had supported Abu Sayyaf, the current governor of Sulu is pro-government," Ryamizard said.
Misuari was formerly an ally of the Abu Sayyaf group. The first wanted the Philippine government to grant autonomy to Sulu, while the latter wanted Sulu to become an independent state. Misuari and his followers have agreed a truce with the Philippine government, while the Abu Sayyaf group keeps fighting.
On Tuesday, Indonesia, Malaysia and the Philippines agreed to engage in coordinated patrols to secure their respective borders.
The agreement allows military personnel of the three countries to enter each other’s waters to pursue kidnappers or terrorists. Such an invasion is limited and only allowed in emergency situations with the prior knowledge of the invaded party. (bbn)
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