Wed, 31 Aug 1994

Indonesian military ready to oversee Moro truce

JAKARTA (JP): Indonesia is prepared to send its military officers to help oversee the truce agreement between the Philippine government and the Moro separatist rebel movement, Minister of Foreign Affairs Ali Alatas said yesterday.

Alatas told reporters that the two conflicting parties signed an agreement providing the guidelines and ground rules for a cease-fire during a meeting in the Philippine town of Zambaonga in April as follow up to talks held in Jakarta late last year.

To oversee the cease-fire, the two sides have asked Indonesia to send military officers, he told reporters after meeting with President Soeharto at the latter's Jl. Cendana residence.

"Indonesia is prepared," he said, pointing out that the matter had already been discussed with the Armed Forces (ABRI). "It's now a question of how many men are needed, and this has got to be agreed upon by both sides."

He said six members of the Organization of Islamic Conference (OIC) were actually asked to send their military officers. "But I think sending officers from Indonesia is the most practical."

Tomorrow Indonesia will host the second round of the peace talks between the Philippine government and the Moro National Liberation Front (MNLF).

Manila will be represented by one of its most senior diplomats, Manuel Yan, while MNLF will be led by its own leader Nur Misuari.

The meeting will review the results of various joint committees and a working group that have been working since the last round of talks in Jakarta late last year.

Alatas disclosed that these committees have made some progress that has not been given wide coverage by the media.

Agreements have been reached in three supporting committees, one on education, another on the introduction of the Syariah law in autonomous regions, and another on the economy.

No significant progress was made in two other committees but at least they have exchanged papers. One is on the question of defense, on how to incorporate the Moro militia into the Armed Forces of the Philippines. Another on the question of the administrative system to be used in the autonomous regions and their relations with the central government.

"These are two quite sensitive issues," he said. (emb)