Govt optimistic of peace talks with the MILF

CAGAYAN DE ORO CITY—Despite the clear stand of the Moro Islamic Liberation Front (MILF) that it will only return to the peace negotiating table once the issue on facilitation has been resolved, the government’s chief negotiator with the Moro front is optimistic that the peace talks will resume in January 2011.

“We still remain optimistic that talks with the MILF will resume in January. We hope that the MILF can share that optimism,” said Dean Marvic Leonen in an emailed statement dated December 28, 2010.

The MILF had earlier ruled out the resumption of the peace talks unless Datuk Othman bin Abd’ Razak of Malaysia is retained as facilitator.

“We have requested the Malaysian government to retain Datuk Othman bin Abd’ Razak as facilitator and this still stands. It is not in the MILF mind to meet in January if the facilitator’s issue is not settled,” MILF chief negotiator Mohaqher Iqbal was quoted as saying.

The government pa-nel had repeatedly questioned Othman’s appointment as facilitator, saying he is biased against the government. Albus D. Estabas

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