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Norway won't abide with terror lists vs RP rebs

first posted in http://www.abs-cbnnews.com
By Jaime Espina
6 January 2006

BACOLOD CITY - The Norwegian government said that it would no longer recognize the list of terrorist organizations drawn up by the European Union (EU) and other countries like the United States against groups in the Philippines and abide only by the list published by the United Nations.

According to the Royal Ministry of Foreign Affairs, the decision was made to avoid adversely affecting its role as neutral facilitator in several peace processes between the Philippines and National Democratic Front (NDF).

"Norway will no longer align itself with any other (terror) list than that published by the UN," the release dated January 6 said.

The EU added the Communist Party of the Philippines (CPP), New People's Army (NPA) and exiled CPP founder Jose Ma. Sison to its terrorist list after the Arroyo government sent a mission led by the late Foreign Affairs Sec. Blas Ople in September 2002 to lobby for the rebels' inclusion.

The UN list, however, does not include the Philippine communist rebels.

Norway is not a member of the EU and has no part in the drawing up of the list.

"Norway is making an important contribution to international peace and security through its involvement in peace processes. These efforts have won the recognition of the international community, including the EU and the US," Foreign Minister Jonas Gahr Støre said in the statement.

"The government wants to intensify these efforts and we must therefore avoid a situation that makes it more difficult for us to have contact with any of the parties to a conflict," he added.

Støre stressed that Norway's decision not to recognize the EU's terror list "does not imply any other change in our cooperation with the EU on measures against terrorism."

"There should be no doubt that Norway clearly condemns all forms of terrorism," he said.

Reacting to Norway's announcement, the NDF said this should make the Philippine government "look into its culpability" in the 2002 lobby.

"[The Philippine government should respond] satisfactorily to the prejudicial question raised by the NDF regarding the baseless and unjust 'terrorist listing'…to pave the way for the resumption of the formal talks between the [government] and the NDF negotiating panels," NDF peace panel chairman Luis Jalandoni said in reply to e-mailed questions seeking the rebels' reaction to Norway's position.

Formal peace talks were supposed to resume in 2004 but were suspended after the Arroyo government refused to comply with two joint statements signed in Oslo in February and April of that year that committed both parties to work for the removal of the rebels from the terror lists of the EU and other states.

Negotiations were suspended in 2002 after the NPA assassinated Cagayan Rep. Rodolfo Aguinaldo.

Jalandoni said the continued inclusion of Philippine rebels in the EU list "disregards the legitimate status of national liberation movements by arrogantly branding national liberation struggles as 'terrorism' and obstructs the political solution of the armed conflict related thereto."

He also said it "increasingly makes Europe an inhospitable place for the…peace negotiations" and "contravenes the 1997 and 1999 European Parliament resolutions which strongly endorsed the…peace negotiations in Europe."

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