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09MANILA2217 2009-10-21 09:09:00 CONFIDENTIAL Embassy Manila
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1. (C) SUMMARY: The Charge d'Affaires met Department of
Foreign Affairs Undersecretary and Peace Process Chair Rafael
Seguis October 15 to discuss the Philippine government's
expectations for planned informal talks later this month in
Kuala Lumpur with leaders of the southern Philippines
separatist group Moro Islamic Liberation Front (MILF).
Seguis described the upcoming October 27 meeting as a chance
for the parties to conclude a framework agreement on the
protection of civilian populations, discuss the return of
internally displaced persons, address the status of detained
MILF commanders, and compare their short lists of countries
to be invited to join the International Contact Group (ICG),
a new mechanism that resulted from last month's round of
informal talks. While Seguis did not formally invite the
U.S. to join the ICG, his staff informed us later that the
U.S. was on the Philippines' short list of suggested
participants, though the Philippines would not propose the
U.S. unless the MILF also desired this. The Charge also
informed Seguis about our intention to visit MILF
headquarters in Mindanao to show our support for the peace
process (reftel). END SUMMARY.



2. (C) In an October 15 meeting with the Charge d'Affaires,
Department of Foreign Affairs Undersecretary and Peace
Process Chair Rafael Seguis said that upcoming talks next
week in Kuala Lumpur with leaders of the separatist Moro
Islamic Liberation Front (MILF) would address several key
issues, including a framework agreement on the protection of
civilian populations in conflict areas. The agreement,
possibly to be modeled after a similar agreement reached for
the southern Sudan conflict, would allow international
fact-finding missions and monitors into Mindanao to examine
protections for civilians under international humanitarian
law. Seguis said the GRP would never agree to the MILF
desire to involve foreign states in the protection of
civilians, but the GRP could agree to a mechanism that would
involve credible international NGOs. In a separate later
conversation, Philippine Peace Panel Director Ryan Sullivan
noted that while the MILF supports the creation of a new
monitoring entity under this agreement, the Philippine
government would prefer to incorporate fact-finding tasks
within a renewed mandate for the existing International
Monitoring Team (IMT).



3. (C) The two sides would also work to agree on a single
list of proposed international members of the International
Contact Group (ICG). Seguis noted the ICG would be ad hoc in
nature; it might attend and observe GRP-MILF negotiations,
offer advice, and draw in resource persons. Seguis suggested
the ICG's role might later expand, with ICG members helping
to implement an eventual peace agreement. He said that he
envisioned that both the GRP and the MILF would approach
countries they wanted to join the ICG, with the two sides'
peace panels issuing joint invitations at the appropriate
time. The DFA would issue invitations to foreign governments
through a note verbale. Asked if the USG would want to join
the ICG, the Charge suggested that the parties to the
conflict should decide whether the USG's presence in the ICG
would be helpful. She stressed that, whether in the ICG or
not, the USG would continue support the peace process. The
Charge noted that the Embassy would send a delegation to meet
with the MILF the following day.



4. (C) Undersecretary Seguis said that the two sides would
also seek to resolve pending security issues, including the
status of 10 detained MILF commanders. The two sides'
suspension of military operations and actions in July was
holding steady, Seguis reported. A significant clash in
August on Basilan island, in which some MILF personnel fought
alongside members of the Abu Sayyaf Group, represented an
exception, he said. Seguis also hoped the two sides could
make progress toward encouraging the return of internally
displaced persons (IDPs) to their home communities. Seguis
noted approximately 20,000 people had recently returned to

MANILA 00002217 002 OF 002

their homes, but around 200,000 remained displaced. He
believed some MILF leaders were encouraging IDPs to remain in
camps, in order to place pressure on the GRP to negotiate.



5. (C) It is unclear if the GRP and MILF will agree to invite
the U.S. into the ICG during the upcoming informal talks.
Ryan Sullivan has told us that President Arroyo agreed to
include the U.S. on the list of countries the GRP would agree
to invite. Sullivan also reported that Seguis said privately
that the Philippines would not object to the MILF's
nomination of the U.S. if it were to happen, but, out of
concern that the U.S. would "dominate the process," Seguis
was not intending to propose U.S. participation absent an
MILF motion.