Philippine government, rebels resume peace talks

Oslo, Aug 22 (IANS) The Philippine government and communist rebels resumed their peace talks on Monday in Norway’s capital city Oslo to end Asia’s longest-running insurgency.

The talks are scheduled from August 22 to 26 between the negotiating panels of the government and the National Democratic Front, the umbrella organisation of Marxist groups, including the Communist Party of the Philippines (CPP) and its armed group, the New People’s Army, Xinhua news agency reported.

Norway’s Foreign Minister Borge Brende said it was good to see the parties gathered in Oslo on a historic day and having a great responsibility as a facilitator for the talks.

“We shall have five very demanding days here,” Brende was quoted as saying at an opening ceremony of the talks in the Holmenkollen Park Hotel northwest of Oslo.

Presidential Peace Adviser Jesus Dureza said last week that the Oslo talks were expected to tackle “social and economic reforms, political and constitutional reforms, end of hostilities and disposition of forces, a ceasefire, joint security and immunity and the release of political detainees”.

The administration of President Rodrigo Duterte is trying to forge peace with the communist rebels. Talks between the government and the rebels began in 1986, but failed to lead to a resolution over the years.

Norway has facilitated the peace process since 2001. The last formal round of the negotiations took place in 2011.

The communist rebellion began in 1969 and reached its peak in 1987 when it boasted 26,000 armed guerrillas. However, the movement has since dwindled due to differences in strategy and tactics and the arrests of many of its top leaders in the late 1980s.

The military estimates the current number of communist armed rebels to be around 4,000.

–IANS

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