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Stage set for peace deal to end Philippine insurgency

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Philippine President Benigno Aquino IIIphoto:ap
Philippine President Benigno Aquino IIIphoto:ap

The Philippine government and the country's biggest Muslim rebel group announced on Sunday they have agreed a plan to end a decades-long separatist insurgency that has killed more than 150,000 people.

The agreement calls for a new semi-autonomous Muslim area in the resource-rich southern Philippine region of Mindanao, which the 12,000-strong Moro Islamic Liberation Front regards as its ancestral homeland.

"This framework agreement paves the way for a final and enduring peace in Mindanao," Aquino said in a nationally televised address.

"It brings all former secessionist groups into the fold. No longer does the Moro Islamic Liberation Front aspire for a separate state."

The MILF hailed the breakthrough, which was achieved in the latest round of peace talks in Malaysia that ended on Saturday, as the "beginning of peace".

"We are happy and we thank the president for this," MILF vice chairman for political affairs Ghazali Jaafar told AFP by phone from his base in Mindanao.

While Aquino did not say when the final peace pact would be achieved, Jaafar said the two sides were aiming for the middle of 2016 when the president's term ends.AFP



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