RealNews

Manila sets date for talks with Muslim rebels

The Philippines said on Thursday formal peace talks with the Moro Islamic Liberation Front (MILF), the largest Muslim rebel group, would resume early January in Malaysia. The negotiations, originally scheduled in October, are expected to end over three decades of separatist fighting in the southern island of Mindanao, home to most of the Philippines’ Muslim minority. Eduardo Ermita, the defence secretary, told journalists in Manila the Malaysian government, which would host the talks, had recently indicated it was ready to invite Philippine government negotiators and MILF to Kuala Lumpur. The talks were postponed because the Malaysian government had been busy with other things, such as hosting the Organisation of Islamic Conference Summit in October and the transfer of power from Dr Mahathir to Mr Abdullah, said Mr Ermita. Malaysia is sending an advance team of six military officers next week to the Philippines to monitor the six-month ceasefire between MILF and the Philippine military. A bigger contingent will arrive later. Full Story

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