Philippines peace talks to resume

Peace negotiations are due to resume on Tuesday in Olso between the Philippine government and communists representing the rebel New People's Army (NPA).

They will be the first such talks since the communists were declared terrorists by a number of western countries.

The government has said it hopes an agreement can be reached before presidential elections on 10 May.

The New People's Army has been in existence for about 30 years and numbers about 9,000 fighters.

But the rebels have been less optimistic about reaching a swift peace agreement.

"We'd be lucky to complete 50% of the talks... but to finish it would not be possible," said their chief negotiator Luis Jalandoni.

Terrorist label

The BBC's correspondent in Manila, John Mclean, says that the guerrillas' chief activity is collecting what they call "revolutionary taxes".

And he says that because of this the government regards them as a 9,000-strong extortion gang, rather than a threat to national security.

One of the main items on the agenda in Oslo is likely to be the communists' objection to the "terrorist" label which was applied by the United States, Canada and the European Union in 2002.

The classification allows their assets abroad to be seized.

Meanwhile clashes between the government and the communists in the Philippines have continued.

On Sunday the Philippine military said it killed three rebels and arrested one in separate clashes in the south of Mindanao island.

No casualties were reported on the government side.

A previous round of peace talks in Oslo was suspended in 2001, after a series of attacks by the rebels on politicians.

10/02/2004

Bron : BBC World News

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