Ihsanoglu meets with Philippines president
Turkish scholar Ekmeleddin Ihsanoglu, who heads the Organization of the Islamic Conference (OIC), met in Istanbul yesterday with Philippines President Gloria Macapagal-Arroyo to discuss the country's restive south. The meeting was a continuation of peace negotiations between the Philippine government and the Moro Islamic Liberation Front (MILF), a representative political group of people living in the Philippines' predominantly Muslim Moro region. The negotiations are being overseen by the OIC. On Tuesday, the Philippine government and MILF signed an accord to form an international contact group (ICG), a move considered to be a major breakthrough towards settling the 40-year-old conflict. The meeting gave Arroyo a chance to seek further OIC contributions to the Mindanao peace process by backing the efforts of the ICG, made up of interested countries and international nongovernmental organizations aiming to provide support and supervise the peace process. The ICG pact states that the body's members will "preferably" come from the OIC, the European Union and accredited international NGOs that the Philippine government and MILF will invite in consultation with Malaysia, the sole third-party facilitator of the Mindanao peace process. They also exchanged views on the Philippines' application to become an observer in the 57-nation OIC. After the meeting, Ihsanoglu and Arroyo visited the headquarters of the International Research Center for Islamic History, Art and Culture (IRCICA), located on the grounds of Yildiz Palace. Arroyo also visited a recently renovated library which contains many historical Islamic books and said she was impressed by it.