World Bulletin / News Desk
Philippine President Benigno Aquino paid a historic visit Monday to Muslim region and said peace talks with them must be speeded up.
Aquino handed out educational, health and livelihood benefits to the Muslim families, to show his government's intention to improve the lives of the Muslims.
In the first presidential visit to the outskirts of the main camp of the Moro Islamic Liberation Front (MILF) in Mindanao island, Aquino said peace talks should be completed before his term ends in 2016.
"We have just three years and four months left. We have to speed up everything we are doing now to make this (peace) permanent," he said.
Aquino said this would ensure that future peaceful relations would not be dependent on who is in office.
"We are near the fruits of our labour. This is not the time for our hearts to grow faint," he told MILF leaders, Muslim residents and foreign diplomats in a sprawling community housing many of the best-armed MILF fighters.
The MILF last October signed a "framework agreement" with Aquino's government committing both sides to form a new autonomous entity on Mindanao by 2016 to end a decades-long guerrilla war for a separate state.
Muslims began fighting since the 1970s for independence in Mindanao, their ancestral homeland.Last Mod: 11 Şubat 2013, 13:28