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Mindanao independence ‘not appropriate’–US envoy

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By Joel Guinto
First Posted 15:09:00 08/15/2008

MANILA, Philippines — Independence for Mindanao, in the pursuit for peace is “not appropriate,” United States Ambassador to the Philippines Kristie Kenney said, as she stressed that a settlement in the strife-torn region should be done “within the territorial integrity” of the country.

At the same time, Kenney debunked “idle speculation” that the US had military interests in mind by supporting peace efforts in the southern Philippines.

“We are strong supporters of lasting peace as a way to development… We do not believe, on the part of the United States, that independence for Mindanao is appropriate,” she said in a speech at the Club Filipino in San Juan.

“We believe a lasting peace in Mindanao should be done within the territorial integrity of the Philippines,” she added.

Senator Joker Arroyo had questioned Kenney’s presence at the aborted signing of a key agreement between government peace negotiators and the Moro Islamic Liberation Front (MILf) earlier this month.

Government critics said the agreement, which would expand the Autonomous Region in Muslim Mindanao (ARMM) into the Bangsamoro Juridical Entity (BJE), was tantamount to granting independence to the MILF.

Without naming Senator Arroyo, Kenney said there were reports that “American interest in Mindanao is related to military bases.”

“I have a very honest answer, no… We do not have plans to have military bases in the Philippines, not in Mindanao, not anywhere,” she said.

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Written by joelguinto

FriUTC2008-08-15T08:08:16+00:00UTC08bUTCFri, 15 Aug 2008 08:08:16 +0000 22, 2006 at 12:45 am08

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