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Govt, Moro rebels open new round of talks

Both sides say they are optimistic a deal will be reached reporter, Manila

July 17, 2012

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The government is optimistic that a peace deal with Moro rebels will be reached soon as a new round of talks opened in Malaysia today. Included on the agenda during the talks are interim arrangements, power-sharing, wealth-sharing, territory, basic law, and constitutional issues in a proposed Moro homeland. Government chief negotiator Marvic Leonen said both parties are now at the "door of an agreement." The administration of President Benigno Aquino wants to achieve a working relationship with the rebels, Leonen said. With cooperation and partnership between the two parties, the national government can assist in the establishment of the new autonomous political entity that is envisioned as part of a peace deal, Leonen said in his opening statements. Mohagher Iqbal, chairman of the Moro Islamic Liberation Front (MILF) peace panel, agreed that a peace settlement is at hand. A statement published on the the rebel group's website, however, quoted an official source on the MILF peace panel as saying that while there is some sense of optimism, some issues remained contentious. “Anything can still happen,” the official was quoted as saying. Malaysia heads an International Monitoring Team that monitors the ceasefire, civilian protection, rehabilitation and development, and socio-economic agreements between the government and the MILF. "We pray that a lasting peace will one day emerge from this table," said Malaysian facilitator Tengku Dato Ab’ Ghafar Tengku Mohamed. Related reports Moro rebels see peace deal soon Moro rebels take ‘a step towards peace’ Government, Moro rebels open new talks

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