Philippine President Aquino to visit rebel stronghold
MANILA (AFP) - Philippine President Benigno Aquino will next week make a historic visit to the stronghold of the country's main Muslim rebel force in an effort to push forward peace talks, his office said on Thursday.
Mr Aquino's trip on Monday to the outskirts of the 12,000-member Moro Islamic Liberation Front's (MILF's) main base in the country's south will be the first peace mission there by a president since the insurgency began in the 1970s.
Mr Aquino and MILF chairman Murad Ebrahim will meet as they witness the launch of a social welfare project for mainly Muslim residents of communities where the rebels exert an influence, Aquino spokesman Ricky Carandang told AFP.
"It's not a formal meeting, but their presence will underscore the commitment and optimism that both sides have that a final resolution to the peace process will be achieved," he said.