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Philippines peace talks between government and Muslim rebel group gather pace





Manila: Peace negotiators for the Philippine government and the country's largest Muslim rebel group said yesterday they had "reached agreement on substantial portions" of a draft self-rule law aimed at ending years of bloody rebellion.

Both the government and the Moro Islamic Liberation Front (MILF) peace panels said in a joint statement they were committed to completing the draft bill by August 18 so it could be passed by Congress as soon as possible.

"The panels have reached agreement on substantial portions of the document and have developed a shared understanding of the remaining challenges and unsettled issues, which they will bring back to their principals for further guidance," the joint statement said.

Asked what these challenges and unsettled issues were, head MILF negotiator Mohagher Iqbal said they included the draft law's "preamble," as well as "fiscal autonomy and inter-government relations".

The joint statement said the two sides had discussed "fiscal autonomy and administration of justice," as well as the issue of budget transfers from the national government to the proposed Muslim autonomous government during the closed door talks in the southern city of Davao.


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