World Bulletin / News Desk
Negotiators from Moro Muslims and the Philippine government began a fresh round of peace talks in Kuala Lumpur on Tuesday, aiming to seal an agreement to end 40 years of conflict in the south of the state.
Government and Muslim negotiators are closing in on a peace deal after nearly 15 years of violence-interrupted talks.
A peace deal with the Moro Islamic Liberation Front (MILF)would set up an expanded autonomous area for Muslims on Mindanao island, giving them more political and economic powers including a bigger share in revenues from natural resources and a more active role in internal security.
"The road is not that long, but it's still very hard to tell if we will reach there," Mohagher Iqbal, the Muslim chief negotiator, told Reuters by text message late on Monday.
"But we are close to it."
The deal to end the conflict which have killed more than 160,000 people, could be signed as early as this week if the four-day talks in Malaysia are successful.
Iqbal said there are still some issues to be resolved in the latest talks, particularly on the shape and size of the new political entity, internal security and wealth-sharing arrangements.
The two sides are working towards a framework agreement, a roadmap that would create the new autonomous region before the end of President Aquino's term in 2016.
The agreement would set up a 15-member transition commission which has until 2015 to draft a law creating the new entity to replace the current autonomous region that has been in place since 1989.
Attack by separatists on checkpoint in Baluchistan province also wounds two others
Mehbooba Mufti defends crackdown that has left at least 68 civilians dead, saying troublemakers are just 5 pct of population
Military says member of ISIL-linked group died after bomb he was carrying exploded during pursuit in troubled Basilan
Last week senior Chinese military official Guan Youfei met with Syria's defence minister in Damascus and said he wanted closer military ties with the Syrian government, state media reported.
Under investigation for misuse of funds including $433,800 office redecoration, $1 million New Year's light show
Police say ‘no immediate evidence to suggest extremism’ after French man charged with killing British woman in Queensland
Officials say oil-laden tanker that went missing from Malaysian port was taken by crew after ‘internal management dispute’
Ten-hour Taliban assault in Kabul sees seven students at prestigious college killed
Kim Jong-un says launch shows North Korea has joined military powers ‘fully equipped with nuclear attack capability’
Lawmaker representing worst-hit township says death toll has risen to 68, despite claims situation ‘under control’
Despite the challenge it presents many Asian Muslims have taken up the idea of biking to Saudi Arabia
Man killed as two-day visit to restive region by India's home minister so far fails to dampen protests
Businesswoman seized alongside her husband and 8-year-old son, who have not been released
Negotiators for government, communist insurgency re-affirm past deals, agree to accelerate peace talks
Foreign ministers pledge to cooperate in dealing with Pyongyang during trilateral talks, rather than discussing disputes
Local police consider bombing, which occurred 2 weeks after series of blasts shook upper regions, to be work of insurgents