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Sultanate bares ‘secret diplomatic effort’

Manila, Philippines – Outside efforts to end the Sabah standoff now over a month-long has stepped into high gear through a “secret diplomatic effort.”

The head of state of an unnamed Western country started the effort two or three days ago to bring Malaysia and the Sultanate of Sulu to sit down in a neutral country like Brunei to find ways to end the standoff that started on Feb. 12 in Kampung Tanduo, Lahad Datu, Sabah, Malaysia.

Abraham J. Idjirani, the sultanate’s secretary general, revealed this Friday morning, saying it was conveyed to him by his “reliable source.”

He said the Sultanate of Brunei was tapped by the Western country to communicate to the Malaysia government the effort towards a peaceful resolution of the standoff.

In a subsequent open forum, he said “no less than the head of state of the Western country” has started the effort.

Pressed on what country is involved, he refused to name it, other than saying it is a Western country.

He made the announcement after his opening statement reiterating the sultanate’s appeal to Malaysia to produce the 10 arrested members of the Royal Security Force (RSF) so that their condition would be known.

“We also would like to make an announcement that a secret diplomatic effort has already been made with a neutral nation and that is now compelling Malaysia to take heed of the that secret diplomatic effort,” said Idjirani.

Idjirani admitted that Brunei was tapped as the venue and the one to facilitate the peacemaking process.

He said Sultan Jamalul Kiram III had already sought Sultan Hassanal Bolkiah’s help two weeks ago.

Idjirani said it is “they (Brunei) who knows” the Sabah issue.

The sultanate’s official refused to call it a “secret negotiation” or back-channeling. He likewise declined to name the main country doing the effort. The main player is just one, Idjirani said.

The Department of Foreign Affairs (DFA) had already sent a “note verbale” to Malaysia regarding the condition of the RSF members. (Edd K. Usman)