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MANILA: United Nations Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon pledged full UN assistance in helping the Philippine government and the Moro Islamic Liberation Front (Milf) implement the framework agreement aimed at ending decades of conflict in Mindanao.
“The Secretary-General expresses his heartfelt wishes for peace and prosperity to the government and the people of the Philippines, in particular the people of Bangsamoro, to be created in Mindanao as a new autonomous political entity in the country,” Ban’s spokesman said in a statement.
President Benigno Aquino announced on Sunday that his government has reached a preliminary agreement of autonomy with the Milf, which has been fighting for an independent Islamic state in the southern Philippines.
The new autonomous region will be named Bangsamoro.
Ban’s spokesman described the accord, which came after 15 years of negotiations, the latest held in Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia, as a “landmark achievement.”
The spokesman said the UN chief commends Aquino for his vision and courage, as well as the commitment of the Milf leadership, in reaching the agreement.
“The Secretary-General is grateful to all national and international actors, in particular the government of Malaysia, for their contributions to the success of the peace negotiations,” Ban’s spokesman said, adding that the UN “stands ready to provide assistance to the parties, as needed, in implementing the Framework Peace Agreement.”
Earlier, foreign governments expressed support for the creation of Bangsamoro as part of a framework agreement between the Aquino administration and the Milf.
US Secretary of State Hillary Clinton welcomed the deal, saying it is a testament to the commitment of all sides for a peaceful end to the conflict in Mindanao.
US Ambassador Harry Thomas Jr also welcomed Aquino’s announcement, saying the successful implementation of this agreement would improve security, stability and development for the people of Mindanao.
The European Union also hailed the agreement, describing it as a “major step toward a long-lasting peace in Mindanao which will bring stability and prosperity to the island.”
Catherine Ashton, high representative of the EU for foreign affairs and security policy, said the EU recognised the contribution of the Malaysian facilitator of the peace talks, Tengku Dato Ab Ghafar Tengku Muhamed, as well as the members of the International Contact Group, to the successful conclusion of the peace negotiations.
Meanwhile, British Foreign Secretary William Hague called the deal a “huge step forward.”
The Japanese embassy also praised the Philippine government and the Milf for the peace breakthrough, hoping that both parties would steadily implement the contents of the framework agreement and continue negotiation efforts toward the early realization of the final agreement.
Australian Foreign Minister Bob Carr acknowledged the leadership of President Aquino, who he said has been a strong advocate for peace.
In a statement, the Swiss government expressed hope that the conclusion of the agreement will contribute toward the resolution of other internal conflicts.
The Philippine Star