Philippines, rebels talk to defuse rising violence

These talks seem to go on interminably. As the article notes some field commanders are growing impatient. There are also other rebel groups that are not part of the talks. Talks with the NPA seem to have broken down some time ago. The U.S. may indirectly play a part in the lack of success in negotiations certainly this is so with respect to the NPA which is listed as a terrorist group by the U.S. and so it frowns on negotiations with them. No doubt those revoloutionaries who fought for U.S. independence from Britain would be terrorists according to the present U.S. definition. Apparently however the U.S. has accepted the Maoist victory in Nepal elections. I guess Nepal does not have any oil!

Philippines, rebels talk to defuse rising violence
Wed 9 Jul 2008, 9:26 GMT
MANILA, July 9 (Reuters) - Philippine troops held talks with Muslim secessionist rebels in an emergency meeting on Wednesday in an attempt to defuse rising tensions that could further derail negotiations to end nearly 40 years of conflict, both sides said.
Since May, when Malaysian peace monitors started pulling out, the two sides have been accusing each other of violating a five-old ceasefire, putting at risk talks to set up a homeland for 3 million Muslims.
"We were called by the Malaysians to an informal meeting to cool down tensions," a member of the truce panel of the Moro Islamic Liberation Front (MILF) told Reuters, adding the peace monitors were worried about rising violence.
This was the first time the Malaysian-led monitoring team has called the two sides for talks to discuss the actual situation on the ground and prevent skirmishes from escalating to a full blown conflict.
On Tuesday night, military chief General Alexander Yano said there had ben a spike in the number of violent incidents on the troubled southern island of Mindanao, where the MILF operates. He said 40 skirmishes were recorded from May 1 to June 30.
When the ceasefire agreement was re-imposed in July 2003, the number of violent incidents involving the two sides went down to almost zero in 2007 from a high of nearly 1,000 incidents in early 2003.
Last month, MILF rebels launched simultaneous attacks on army detachments in three provinces on Mindanao, toppling steel towers holding high-voltage power lines and harassing farmers harvesting rice.
But, the rebels avoided actual confrontation with troops, immediately pulling back after firing at army convoy or at small army outpost.
Mohaqher Iqbal, chief rebel negotiator, said the MILF leadership was committed to the peace talks and did not authorise the actions of some field commanders who were getting impatient due to delays in the peace talks.
Iqbal said they have also filed a complaint against the deployment of troops near MILF bases, describing the moves as "a clear violation of the ceasefire agreement".
The two sides have been talking for 11 years to end a Muslim rebellion that has killed more than 120,000 people and displaced 2 million since the late 1960s.
Talks brokered by Malaysia from March 2001 have been stalled for eight months over constitutional issues, but the two sides are optimistic negotiations would be held late this month in Kuala Lumpur to seal a deal on creating a Muslim homeland. (Reporting by Manny Mogato; Editing by Raju Gopalakrishnan and David Fox)
© Reuters 2008. All Rights Reserved.


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