Report: Brunei, Malaysia likely to pull out peacekeepers from Philippines

Brunei is likely to follow Malaysia's lead in pulling peacekeepers out of the Philippines who have been monitoring a truce between the government and Muslim rebels, a report said Wednesday, raising the possibility that the mission there will be disbanded. Malaysia and Brunei contribute most of the nearly 60 troops, police and other officers responsible for safeguarding the 2003 cease-fire between Manila and the Moro Islamic Liberation Front on the violence-scarred Philippine island of Mindanao. Malaysian Foreign Minister Rais Yatim said Monday that his country is not planning to send new personnel once the current mandate of its monitors ends in September. He attributed the decision to the lack of progress in peace talks between Manila and the Front. The international monitoring team, which has been led by Malaysia since 2004, also includes several military officers from Libya and an economic expert from Japan. Malaysia currently has about 40 personnel in the team while Brunei has 10. Malaysian-brokered talks between the Philippine government and the Front hit a snag in December when rebel negotiators walked away from a meeting after disputing proposals by Manila, including the extent of territory that would fall under Muslim control.