GMA TO DISCUSS RESUMPTION OF GRP-MILF PEACE TALKS W/ BADAWI
MANILA, MARCH 1, 2009 (STAR) By Jose Rodel Clapano - President Arroyo will discuss the resumption of peace talks between the Philippine government and the Moro Islamic Liberation Front (MILF) with Malaysian Prime Minister Abdullah Ahmad Badawi during the 14th ASEAN summit in Thailand.
In an interview over the government-owned Radyo ng Bayan, Press Secretary Cerge Remonde said the Philippine government’s peace talks with the MILF is one of the priority issues that Arroyo wants to bring up with Malaysian leaders.
“That will be one of the issues to be discussed. Malaysia has a big role in the peace process, being a mediator country. That is the reason why Secretary Norberto Gonzales is here,” Remonde said.
Peace talks between the government and Muslim separatists collapsed after the latter accused Malacañang of backing out of a draft agreement recognizing the MILF’s ancestral domain.
Chief MILF negotiator Mohaqer Iqbal said “the talks collapsed because the government was undoing settled issues on ancestral domain.”
Remonde said Mrs. Arroyo is also expected to discuss with Badawi other security matters and how to improve trade and commercial relations between the two countries
“The President will push for two points during the ASEAN summit. First is the implementation of the $120-billion fund. Of course, the implementation of the ASEAN economic community and that is a priority that the President would push in the ongoing ASEAN summit,” Remonde said.
The presidential party, including Remonde, arrived in Hua Hin, Thailand at 7:30 am (Thailand time) yesterday and was received by Thai government officials.
Mrs. Arroyo stayed at the Dusit Hotel, as did the leaders of Indonesia, Brunei and Thailand, and Badawi.
The ASEAN summit officially opened at 2:30 p.m. yesterday and Mrs. Arroyo was expected to have a bilateral meeting with Badawi at around 3:10 in the afternoon.
Chief News Editor: Sol Jose Vanzi
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