Philippines President, Muslim Rebel Chief Hold Talks

Posted August 5th, 2011 at 4:00 am (UTC-5)
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Philippine officials say President Benigno Aquino met secretly in Japan late Thursday with the head of the Philippines' largest Muslim rebel group and agreed to speed up peace talks.

A press release from the Philippine government Friday said Mr. Aquino met with Moro Islamic Liberation Front chairman Murad Ebrahim for nearly two hours in a hotel near Tokyo's Narita airport and both men agreed to fast track the negotiations.

The rebels have waged a bloody insurgency for self-rule in the southern Mindanao region for more than three decades.

Philippine Muslims have been complaining of official discrimination by consecutive Philippine governments and the Catholic majority, including discrimination in housing and education, as well as lack of government funding for the majority-Muslim South.