Posted by: JWP | 11/13/2009

Clinton Backs Manila’s Fight to root out al-Qaeda-linked insurgents

[Clinton photo]Agence France-Presse/Getty ImagesU.S. Secretary of State Hillary Clinton greets students at a flood-stricken school east of Manila on Thursday.

By JAMES HOOKWAY

excerpts:

BANGKOK — Secretary of State Hillary Clinton pledged to continue U.S. military support for the Philippines’ efforts to root out al-Qaeda-linked insurgents, despite calls from some Filipino nationalists for the government in Manila to put greater restrictions on U.S. troop operations there.

Speaking in Manila Thursday, Mrs. Clinton also continued to apply pressure on Myanmar, repeating calls for the unconditional release of pro-democracy leader Aung San Suu Kyi as the U.S. prepares for a summit with Southeast Asian states — including Myanmar — in Singapore this weekend.

The U.S. and Philippine militaries consider the U.S. mission there a success. It revolves around providing humanitarian assistance and infrastructure development, as well as training and surveillance. A similar program was later applied in western Iraq’s Anbar province to win over local chieftains.

Since the U.S. entered the Philippine conflict, the Abu Sayyaf has seen its numbers drop from 2,000 guerrillas to a few hundred operating in the interior of Jolo island, 600 miles south of Manila.

Last month, Philippine troops uncovered a large underground bunker complex on the island in a fresh blow to the rebels. A larger Muslim insurgent group, the Moro Islamic Liberation Front, has increasingly looked toward negotiating a peace agreement with the Philippines government. read in full @WSJ

Online chatters ask why Clinton forum missed VFA @Abs-cbnews

Irish Priest Freed in Philippines @WSJ

PAKISTAN:  A question of whom to trust

Jesuit Father Frank Brennan has just returned from Lahore, where he found a country on edge and Christians with special cause for concern over the notorious blasphemy laws. @Ucanews

 

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