Philippines, Muslim rebels expect peace pact soon
MANILA (AP) - Philippine officials and the largest Muslim rebel group in the country said on Wednesday that they expect to conclude a peace accord as early as next month despite unresolved issues, including the delicate task of disarming the 11,000-strong guerrilla force.
Government negotiator Miriam Coronel Ferrer and rebel negotiator Mohagher Iqbal of the Moro Islamic Liberation Front separately said that a peace pact could be reached in May or June. They expressed confidence that the remaining issues could be resolved in the next round of negotiations this month in Malaysia, which has been brokering the talks.
"I believe it will be signed because there is no other way except to move forward," Mr Iqbal told a news conference in Manila when asked whether a pact could be reached as early as next month.
He called on Malaysia and other foreign governments to continue backing the yearslong talks, saying he and fellow guerrillas now believe that peace can reign in once battle-wracked Muslim regions.