Cracks in coalition of the willing
Philippine government to withdraw troops from Iraq "as soon as possible."
04:10 13 July 2004
The Philippine government is to withdraw its 51-strong force from Iraq "as soon as possible", according to press reports.
Rafael Seguis, Philippine Deputy Foreign Minister, in a statement translated by Arabic TV channel al Jazeera, said: "We are responding to your request and are to withdraw our humanitarian contingent in Iraq as soon as possible."
The Philippine government previously insisted it would honour in full its international commitments in Iraq.
Philippine President, Gloria Arroyo, said Sunday: "Our government's stand remains the same as we cannot change our commitment given to the international community."
Mr Seguis was addressing militant group, the Islamic Army of Iraq-Khalid bin al Waleed Brigade, which is holding a Filipino driver hostage.
The group has threatened to kill Angelo de la Cruz unless Manila agrees to withdraw its troops by July 20.
The Philippine's 51-strong peacekeeping contingent is set to withdraw from Iraq on August 20th in any event.
Appealing to the kidnappers' human side, Mr Seguis said: "We know that Islam is the religion of peace and mercy."
Kidnappers extended the Sunday deadline for Manila to withdraw its troops.
Sunday's deadly expired at 11pm local time (20:00 GMT).
The Philippine government has an extra nine days to negotiate the release of de la Cruz, al Jazeera said earlier.
Meanwhile, the Bulgarian government says two of its citizens held hostage are still alive despite an execution deadline set by kidnappers having passed by.
Truck drivers Georgi Lazov and Ivailo Kepov are being held hostage by militants demanding US-led forces free Iraqi prisoners.