Philippines, Muslim Rebels Resume Peace Negotiations In Malaysia After More Than a Year

December 8, 2009

Author: Julia Zappei

Source: The Baltimore Sun

Wire Service: AP,0,2399940.story

The Philippine government and a Muslim separatist group Tuesday resumed peace talks that collapsed 16 months ago, restoring formal efforts to end a decades-long rebellion that has claimed at least 120,000 lives.

The Moro Islamic Liberation Front has been fighting for Muslim self-rule for decades in Mindanao, the southern homeland of minority Muslims in the largely Roman Catholic Philippines. It is the biggest of at least four Muslim rebel groups that have waged a bloody rebellion in the volatile south.

Negotiators from both sides began a two-day round of Malaysian-brokered talks Tuesday at a hotel in Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia's main city.

The chief Philippine government representative voiced confidence of eventually achieving "a peace settlement that is just, lasting, acceptable and truly beneficial to the Muslim Filipinos in Mindanao and to the entire Filipino people."

"I am excited and brimming with optimism because we have, at last, reached this day when we formally resume the peace negotiations," Rafael Seguis said at a closed-door ceremony attended by diplomats from Britain, Japan and Turkey, according to a text of his opening remarks sent to the media in the Philippine capital, Manila.