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EU presses Philippine gov't, Muslim rebels to sign peace agreement

(Xinhua)

08:54, February 09, 2012

MANILA, Feb. 8 (Xinhua) -- The European Union on Wednesday urged the Philippine government and Muslim rebels to sign a peace agreement to end the long-running conflict.

EU envoys in Manila visited Cotobato to meet Philippine and rebel representatives and encourage them to intensify their negotiations "to reach a settlement at the earliest possible moment."

"The EU believes that the timing is right for a decisive push towards an agreement and that such an opportunity must not be missed," an EU statement said.

"The parties need to constantly remember that the conflict has an enormous cost on the region and that economic development will only be possible with peace," it added.

The Moro Islamic Liberation Front, a secessionist group, has been fighting the government troops in southern Philippines since 1969, leaving at least 120,000 people dead and wreaking havoc on the region's economy.

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