02/16/2011, 00.00
PHILIPPINES
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Peace talks between the Filipino government and Communist rebels resume in Oslo

Talks, which resumed yesterday after a six-year hiatus, are set to last for a week. Economic reforms to rebuild war-ravaged regions and the release of political prisoners are at the centre of the discussions.

Manila (AsiaNews) – The Filipino government and rebels from the Communist Party of the Philippines (CPP) resumed peace talks in Oslo (Norway) after a six years interval. Negotiations are being held behind closed doors and are scheduled to last a week. The military’s pledge that it would release Communist leader Allan Jazmines, arrested on Monday, was crucial for their resumption. To avoid risks, the military and the rebels have signed a temporary ceasefire to last for the duration of the peace talks.

Teresita Quintos Deles, presidential adviser on the peace process, said she believed both the government and the rebels want to end the 42-year insurgency that killed more than 10,000 people, as well as bring economic reforms in the areas most affected by the conflict.

Sources among participants to the talks say that Maoists are open to a dialogue but want the government to release 350 political prisons jailed under the Gloria Arroyo administration, a demand so far rejected by Filipino authorities.

The conflict between the Filipino military and the New People’s Army (NPA), the armed wing of the CPP, has gone on since 1968. It has cost the lives of thousands of people and destroyed the economy of rural areas in the central part of the country.

The government and rebels have held talks on and off for years but they were brought to an end in 2005 when the CPP was included in a list of terrorist organisations.

The NPA has 4,500 fighters and controls 1,301 villages, primarily in the provinces of Marinduque, Bohol, Romblon, Leyte and Misamis, all located in the Visayas group of islands (central Philippines).

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