Philippines Muslim Leader Calls Halt to Peace Talks

Posted September 5th, 2011 at 6:35 am (UTC-5)
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Peace talks between the Philippines government and the nation's largest Muslim rebel group have hit a snag, with the rebels saying there is no point in returning to Malaysia for another round of talks next week.

Murad Ebrahim, leader of the Moro Islamic Liberation Front, told reporters at his jungle camp Monday that draft agreements traded by the two sides last month were so far apart that there is no point in meeting again at this time.

Murad wants Malaysian officials, who have been hosting the talks, to talk to the two sides separately in hopes of moving them closer together.

But he said the people of the southern Philippines will never settle for what the government is currently offering, which consists mainly of social and economic reforms. He said the problem is essentially political, and it will only be solved by amending the constitution to give the region political autonomy.

The talks are aimed at ending a revolt that began in the 1970s and has claimed an estimated 150,000 lives. All previous attempts at peace talks ended in failure.