Philippines to begin formal peace talks with rebels

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Manila, June 16 (IANS) The Philippine government and the National Democratic Front of the Philippines (NDFP) which represents the communist rebels of the country, will resume peace talks formally next month in Norway, officials said on Thursday.

The agreement to revive the peace process comes after two days of preliminary meetings in Oslo on Tuesday and Wednesday, during which the agenda for the upcoming talks, which will begin in the third week of July, was finalised, EFE news reported.

According to a document signed by the representatives of the government and NDFP, the agenda will include an amnesty for the release of Communist political prisoners, the GMA network reported.

Also on the agenda is the announcement of a ceasefire, the confirmation of previous agreements and ways to speed up the negotiation process.

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While incoming presidential peace advisor Jesus Dureza and incoming Labour Secretary Silvestre Bello represented the Philippine government in the preliminary talks in Oslo, the NDFP sent a five-member team, including Communist Party of the Philippines founder Jose Maria Sison.

The last round of talks with the communists ended in April 2013, after the government refused to release some political prisoners who were appointed to participate in the peace talks.

President-elect Rodrigo Duterte has announced he is willing to order the release of some insurgents even before a peace agreement is signed.



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