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Peace talks between Manila, MILF to continue despite threat, official

(Xinhua)

08:35, September 02, 2011

MANILA, Sept. 1 (Xinhua) -- The peace negotiations between the Philippine government and the Moro Islamic Liberation Front (MILF) would continue despite the threat of renegade commander Ameril Umbra Kato to disrupt it, a senior official said here on Thursday.

"Both sides, the Philippine government and the MILF, are committed to making this process move forward and we will work together to make sure that attempts to disrupt it will not succeed, " Presidential Communications Development and Strategic Planning Secretary Ramon Carandang said.

Kato threatened to disrupt the ongoing peace process between the government and the MILF and also warned of possible attacks against the ongoing joint Philippine-United States Balikatan exercises in Maguindanao.

"We will not give in to threats and all the planned exercises will continue," Carandang said, adding that there is no need to augment government forces in Maguindanao as the security is already sufficient.

Meanwhile in Beijing, visiting Philippine President Benigno Aquino III said in an interview he expect the MILF to live up to their claim that they would settle the issue with Kato.

Aquino also reiterated that he is confident about the success of the talks with the MILF.

The MILF has been fighting government troops for decades to establish a self-rule Muslim state in the south of the predominantly Catholic country. Peace talks between the government and the MILF remain stalled since August 2008 following the aborted signing of the Memorandum of Agreement on Ancestral Domain.

However, efforts are being undertaken by both sides to revive the talks. A final peace deal with the government will touch the issues of autonomy and the civil settlement of the rebel group's 11,800-strong guerrilla fighters.

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