Manila: Troop withdrawal as soon as possible

In a sudden reversal of policy, the Philippines government tells Aljazeera it will withdraw its 'humanitarian contingent' from Iraq.

    Arroyo seems to have caved in to captors' demands

    Hoping to dissuade Filipino truck driver 

    Angelo de la Cruz's


    from executing him, and apparently meeting one of their key demands, the Philippines government has promised to withdraw its troops from Iraq.

    Philippines Deputy Foreign Minister Rafael Sequis read a statement on Aljazeera addressing the captors.

    "We are responding to your request and are to withdraw our humanitarian contingent in Iraq as soon as possible," Sequis said.

    Earlier, a purported Iraqi group

    calling itself the Khalid Ibn al-Walid Brigade threatened to behead de la Cruz by Tuesday unless Manila cave in to their demands for total troop withdrawal by 20 July.

    On Sunday, Philippines President Gloria Arroyo bluntly refused to succumb to their threat.
    "Our government's stand remains the same as we cannot change our commitment given to the international community," a senior Philippines diplomat in Baghdad said. 
    Family in Jordan

    Early on Monday, de la Cruz's wife and brother were en route to Jordan in a last-ditch bid to secure his release.
    Arsenia de la Cruz was to make a personal appeal for the freedom of her husband, a 46-year-old father of eight, who was seized last week as he drove a truckload of crude oil from neighbouring Saudi Arabia. 

    SOURCE: Aljazeera


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