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Government, Moro rebels open new talks

Government negotiator says 'difficult decisions' must be made to reach a lasting deal

Government, Moro rebels open new talks
Members of the government and Moro peace panels in Kuala Lumpur for the opening of the new round of peace talks. (Photo courtesy of OPAPP)
Joe Torres, Manila
Philippines

March 20, 2012

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A new round of peace negotiations between Manila and Moro rebels opened in Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia, yesterday, with the top government negotiator saying “difficult decisions” must be made to keep the talks on track. Mohagher Iqbal, chairman of the Moro Islamic Liberation Front (MILF) peace panel, said he is "fascinated by the boldness of the Aquino administration" in its pursuit for an end to armed conflict in Mindanao. The heart of the discussions center on "what we can really get for our people, their communities and their future," the government's chief negotiator Marvic Leonen said. "We have always maintained that the end of these discussions should always result in real and genuine representation for the Bangsamoro [Mindanao people]," he said. Leonen called on the MILF to work with government to "redouble" efforts, spark public debate and make "difficult decisions." He urged the rebel group to examine its position so that both parties can work together in crafting permanent solutions to ensure a lasting peace. "Perhaps we can both keep an open mind, we could convince ourselves that there are goals more appropriate rather than sticking to our encrusted position," Leonen said. Related reports MILF suspends ceasefire violators MILF flags possible peace deal
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