Informal talks with communists set
By Joel Guinto
First Posted 16:24:00 03/04/2009
MANILA, Philippines—The government panel negotiating with communist rebels will fly to the Netherlands this month for another round of “informal” negotiations, Malacañang said Wednesday.
During the meeting, both panels will hammer out four “agenda items” for formal talks, Executive Secretary Eduardo Ermita told a news conference at the Palace.
The Utrecht-based National Democratic Front (NDF), the political arm of the Communist Party of the Philippines (CPP), has agreed to trim down the “agenda items” from 10 to four, Ermita said.
“The President allowed members of the panel to go back to the Netherlands to have third informals to pin down the agenda [for the talks]. They agreed to lower it down to four agenda items,” he said.
Norwegian-brokered peace talks between the Philippine government and the NDF were stalled in August 2004 after the rebels protested the Palace’s alleged inaction to have them removed from the United States’ and European Union’s lists of terrorist organizations.
The last informal negotiations were held in the Netherlands in December 2008.
Meanwhile, peace efforts with the Moro Islamic Liberation Front (MILF), which was stalled in August 2008 by rebel attacks in Mindanao, are “still on track,” Ermita said.
During a meeting with President Gloria Macapagal-Arroyo on the sidelines of the Association of Southeast Asian Nations summit in Thailand over the weekend, Malaysian Prime Minister Abdullah Badawi said his government would “continue to help” in the negotiations.
Malaysia is the third-party negotiator of the talks. Malacañang is eyeing multiple countries as facilitators when negotiations resume.
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