• Norway committed to be peace talks facilitator

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    Norway is committed in continuing as a third-party facilitator in the peace talks between the Philippine government and the Communist Party of the Philippines (CPP).

    Norwegian Foreign Minister Borge Brende said during an ambush interview on Thursday that his country will continue being a facilitator to the talks as long as the Philippines is interested in pursuing solutions to the decades-old conflict.

    Despite the recent announcement from the CPP that it will wait for a new government before resuming formal talks, Brende is hopeful that negotiations can begin again during the remaining three years of the Aquino administration.

    “President [Benigno] Aquino [3rd] is here for several years and will be looking for opportunities to resume talks in the future,” said the envoy, who met with the President yesterday afternoon.

    Brende said he hopes to have the opportunity to discuss with Aquino any chance to resume talks with the communist party in the coming months.

    Formal peace talks between the two sides were stalled in February 2011 while a special track proposed by the CPP/National People’s Army (CPP/NPA) bogged down early last year.

    The National Democratic Front (NDF) earlier accused the Aquino administration of making “bellicose statements” on the termination of the peace talks.

    Its chief negotiator, Luis Jalandoni, also rejected the ceasefire agreement sought by the Philippine government.

    He said the ceasefire agreement is being used as a precondition for the surrender of the CPP/NDF/NPA members.

    Since 2011, communist insurgencies and armed attack in Mindanao (south of Manila) killed close to 400 people, more than 150 of which are civilians. Other fatalities were policemen, militia and the rebels.

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