Ex-British PM Blair willing to help RP talks vs rebels


Posted at Apr 24 2008 08:22 AM | Updated as of Apr 24 2008 04:22 PM

BELFAST - Former British prime minister Tony Blair is willing to help the Philippine government in its peace initiatives with the communist and Muslim secessionist movements.

Philippine Ambassador to the United Kingdom Edgardo Espiritu made this known following separate closed-door meetings with Blair and top-level ministers of the Northern Irish Assembly in Belfast recently.

Espiritu elicited the support of Speaker William Hay, outgoing First Minister Ian Paisley and Deputy First Minister Martin MacGuinness that a group of parliamentarians from Manila be sent to Belfast and hold talks with their counterparts on a peace formula.

Espiritu added the delegation should also include local officials and members of non-government organizations who are actively involved in the peace efforts.

The group can learn from the experience of Northern Ireland, and vice versa, Espiritu said

Blair and Northern Ireland have a strong influence on other European Union countries in trying to lobby for the removal of the Communist Party of the Philippines-New People's Army in the list of terrorist organizations.

Blair played a key role in resolving the century-old conflict involving the Irish Republican Army in Northern Ireland by adopting a three-step approach in the successful conclusion of peace talks.

First was the cessation of hostilities, then economic development and finally, resolving legal issues.

Espiritu said the proposed Philippine peace delegation can visit Belfast in July. Danny Buenafe, ABS-CBN Europe News Bureau