A top Philippines official says Manila will withdraw its 51-member peacekeeping force from Iraq as soon as possible, in an effort to save the life of a Philippines hostage held by Iraqi militants.
Philippines Deputy Foreign Minister Rafael Seguis made the statement on al-Jazeera television Monday. He did not say if the withdrawal of the forces would come earlier than August 20th, as originally scheduled.
Militants holding 46-year old Angelo de la Cruz have threatened to behead him unless the Philippines withdraws its troops from Iraq by July 20th--a condition Philippines President Gloria Arroyo had rejected.
Also Monday, Iraqi President Ghazi al-Yawar said his government will soon announce an amnesty program for militants who lay down their arms. But, Mr. al-Yawar said capital punishment will be reinstated when the amnesty expires.
Information for this report is provided by AP, AFP and Reuters.