The OIC offers assistance in restoring peace and stability in southern Philippines

Jeddah, 24 April 2007. Commenting on press reports in the Philippines' local press on the 17th of April about the letter addressed to the Secretary General from the Foreign Minister of the Philippines concerning the Secretary General's appeal for a cease fire in Sulu Province, the Special Adviser to the OIC Secretary General Ambassador Sayed Kassim El-Masri said today that, the Secretary General promptly replied to the Foreign Minister outlining the Organization's stand towards the immediate issue and towards the peace process as a whole. The Secretary General outlined in his replies that, the commitment of the Organization to the values and principles of Islam which is totally against aggression and glorifies peace, tolerance and respect for human rights. Its determination to combat all terrorist acts have been pronounced on the highest level.

The Secretary General conveyed to the Foreign Minister of the Philippines that the MNLF with all its factions and commanders have on several occasions declared that, they are on the side of combating terrorism. They wish to cooperate with the Government of the Republic of the Philippines (GRP) in reaching this common objective. The secretary General encouraged the Government of the Republic of the Philippines and the MNLF to jointly combine efforts for closer cooperation and coordination.

In his reply, the Secretary General referred to the suspension of the military operations (SOMO) which was declared by Her Excellency President Gloria Maacapagal-Arroyo during the visit of the OIC mission in 2005 and which was extended indefinitely during that visit.

The Secretary General expressed his believe that the OIC can play a constructive role in restoring calm and confidence after the devastating military operations in Sulu. He reiterated his offer to extend the helping hand in confidence building and restoring stability which is so much needed in order to continue the peace process.

Ambassador El-Masri added that the Secretary General proposed to the GRP to consider receiving a small team of military experts from the OIC to visit the area for assessment purposes.