RealNews

Philippine peace bid takes aim at rebel-terrorist nexus

Seven months into a nervous cease-fire on the troubled island of Mindanao, government negotiators are desperately hoping for a breakthrough when they sit down to exploratory peace talks later this month in Malaysia. On the other side of the table will be representatives of the Moro Islamic Liberation Front (MILF), which has battled since 1978 against Manila’s rule. And lurking in the shadows will be a history of false starts and broken pledges that make many observers fearful of a return to all-out war in Mindanao. The talks are due to run Feb. 16-17 in Kuala Lumpur. The stakes are high, and not just for those caught in the immediate crossfire. Foreign governments accuse the MILF of helping Jemaah Islamiyah (JI), a pan-Asian terrorist group, to regroup in Mindanao after crackdowns in Indonesia and other countries. Regional leaders, including Australian Prime Minister John Howard this week, have warned that JI remains a threat. Full Story

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