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Arroyo, Blair discuss Mindanao over lunch

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By Joel Guinto
First Posted 12:40:00 03/23/2009

MANILA, Philippines – President Gloria Macapagal-Arroyo met with former British Prime Minister Tony Blair on Monday to seek his help in the peace process in the south, Malacañang said.

Arroyo welcomed Blair at the Bahay Pangarap inside the Presidential Security Group (PSG) compound at the Palace at 11:30 a.m. and had their talk over lunch.

“We expect that Tony Blair will be sharing with us the experiences he had especially in the success of [Northern Ireland]… We’re very confident that Tony Blair, with all his experience and contribution, will help a lot in solving our problem on peace and order in Mindanao,” deputy presidential spokesperson Lorelei Fajardo said.

Peace negotiations between Manila and the Moro Islamic Liberation Front (MILF) ground to a halt in August 2008 after questions were raised on the constitutionality of an agreement that would have paved the way for the expansion of the Autonomous Region in Muslim Mindanao (ARMM).

The scuttled Memorandum of Agreement on Ancestral Domain (MoA-AD) also triggered MILF attacks on civilian communities in Central Mindanao.

Blair is in Manila for speaking engagements on leadership on Monday. He arrived under heavy security last Sunday.

Under his watch as prime minister, Blair helped negotiate the “Good Friday Agreement” in the late 1990s that ended decades of conflict in Northern Ireland.

Blair was recently appointed peace envoy to the Middle East by the United Nations, the European Union, the United States, and Russia.

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Written by joelguinto

MonUTC2009-03-23T06:07:54+00:00UTC03bUTCMon, 23 Mar 2009 06:07:54 +0000 22, 2006 at 12:45 am03

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