Philippines, communist rebels agree to resume peace talks
The Philippine government and communist rebels have agreed to resume peace talks and restore separate cease-fires after an escalation of deadly clashes, officials said on Sunday.
Government and rebel negotiators will resume talks early next month and discuss the terms of a broader cease-fire, presidential adviser Jesus Dureza said.
Norway, which has been brokering the negotiations, hosted two days of informal talks in the Netherlands that led to a decision to resume the negotiations on ending one of Asia's longest-running rebellions.
The military welcomed news of the breakthrough but said it would await formal notice from government negotiators and Duterte's instructions. "Pending this, all military operations will continue and remain at current state," the military said in a statement.
The Maoist guerrillas said they would remain vigilant because of continuing military and police counterinsurgency operations but added they were optimistic with the talks' resumption.
"Instead of putting the lives of millions of people in harm's way, such as Duterte's all-out-war declaration, better yet we try to settle our differences on the negotiating table," said the rebels' Melito Glor command, which has a presence in the mountainous provinces south of Manila.
Founded in 1968, the rural-based guerrilla group has unsuccessfully tried to negotiate with five Philippine presidents before Duterte. Battle setbacks, surrenders and infighting have weakened the rebel group, which is considered a terrorist organization by the United States and remains a major Philippine security threat.