Philippines, Rebel Group Pledge to Continue Peace Talks

Posted December 7th, 2011 at 6:15 am (UTC-5)
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The Philippine government and the country's largest Muslim rebel group have agreed to extend the mandate of an international peace monitoring mission, while pledging to continue talks aimed at ending the decades-long insurgency.

A joint statement issued Wednesday by the government and the Moro Islamic Liberation Front (MILF) said the two sides agreed to meet again in January for another round of talks.

They also agreed to renew the mandate of a team of international cease-fire monitors who are keeping track of the peace process.

The statement was issued at the end of three days of talks in the Malaysian capital, Kuala Lumpur.

There had been concerns that President Benigno Aquino may break off negotiations following a series of attacks in October that left 19 government soldiers and six rebels dead.

The attacks were some of the worst clashes in years between government forces and rebel groups.

But President Aquino resisted calls to wage an all-out offensive against the MILF, instead calling this week for the group to help curb “lawless elements.”

The peace talks are aimed at ending a revolt by minority Muslim groups, who have been fighting since the 1970s for self-rule in the predominantly Christian nation.

The fighting has claimed at least 150,000 lives. All prior attempts at peace talks have ended in failure.