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PIA Press Release

UNGA President happy with progress of talks in Mindanao

Manila, PNA (17 March) -- H.E. Dr. Ali Abdussalam Treki, the veteran Libyan diplomat who shepherded negotiations that led to the Tripoli Agreement between the Philippine Government and the Moro National Liberation Front (MNLF) and eventually the Autonomous Region of Muslim Mindanao (ARMM) on Wednesday said he is happy there is no need for another such agreement in the region.

"I am happy with the progress in Mindanao after hearing from President Gloria Macapagal-Arroyo" directly in two meetings so far since his arrival late Monday night for the Special Non-Aligned Movement Ministerial Meeting (SNAMMM) here on interfaith dialogue, Treki told the participants.

Several times in the past, he said he had been "to that beautiful island, that part of the Philippines and I am happy to hear today" that much has been done to conquer misunderstanding, Treki told reporters.

President Arroyo delivered the keynote address at the opening of the ministerial-level meeting.

Egypt's Minister of Religious Affairs, H.E. Prof. Dr. Mahmoud Hamdi Zakzouk, and Dr. William Vendley of the World Conference of Religions for Peace, gave statements as the Chief Executive listened.

On Tuesday night, Treki paid President Macapagal-Arroyo a courtesy call and they discussed Mindanao and how much has been achieved since the Libya-facilitated Tripoli Agreement in 1976. An offshoot of that Agreement was the ARMM organic law and MNLF chairman Nur Misuari becoming ARMM governor.

Also on Tuesday, Treki met with a small MNLF delegation led by Misuari, who is running for governor of Sulu province in southern Mindanao.

Asked if during his presidency of the UNGA, he will consider entertaining appeals to discuss Mindanao at the U.N., Treki said: "No, I don't think someone will be doing that (appealing with the U.N.)."

In the years since 1976, the MNLF has been in constant touch with Libya and/or Treki. During the years of the split of the MNLF hierarchy into at least five-subgroups, one group's leader being Misuari and that of another, the so-called 15-man Commission headed by then-Gov. Farouk Hussein, the members have turned to the Islamic elders-style of internal mediation.

"But now, I am in the UNGA and I do not speak for the OIC nor for Libya," he emphasized to reporters.

The MNLF, the Organization of Islamic Conference (OIC) and the Government of the Republic of the Philippines (GRP) signed more than a year ago a pact working on amendments to the ARMM organic law. The result would have been the introduction of those amendments to the Philippine Congress. (PNA) [top]

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