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PIA Press Release

Top world negotiators studying peace options - Dureza

Madrid (2 October) -- President Arroyo's peace adviser today said "new perspectives" are being studied and crafted as a way forward in the ongoing impasse on ancestral domain with the Muslim rebels in Southern Philippines.

Speaking from Madrid where he is meeting with other international peace negotiators, Presidential Adviser Jesus G. Dureza told reporters in the sidelines of a forum here that although the impasse is "serious", there is always a way forward. Just like in the many more problematic situations the world, a peaceful settlement can be achieved "provided both sides are determined to mutually seek peace", Dureza pointed out.

Dureza said: "I know the Moro Islamic Liberation Front wants peace for the bangsamoro people in the south. We in government and the rest of the people who are tired of conflict also aspire for peace. Looking for the way is what this is all about. It may not be easy. But President Arroyo and the whole nation are determined to seek the path to peace".

The Philippine official sounded off to the top negotiators convened here in Spain on possible options that can be studied for the Philippine case that other nations are able to adopt successfully. Dureza however said the Philippine case may be unique in its own way but lessons learned in other parts of the world can be "insightful".

About a dozen top government negotiators were invited by the Ministry of Foreign Affairs and Development of Spain in a 3-day forum in Madrid. Aside from Dureza, the Philippines is represented by government panel negotiator Anabelle Abaya, a conflict resolution expert who sits in the negotiations with the communist party. Peace talks with the Filipino Maoist rebels are also on standstill at the moment. The University of Culture of Peace in Barcelona facilitated the closed door marathon sessions.

Discussed during the forum aside from the Philippine peace process were Columbia, Darfur, Congo, Burundi, Azerbaijan, Aceh Indonesia, Sahara, Pakistan and others.

The Philippine official said a panel headed by Secretary Silvestre Afable is now backing to the drawing boards to study options upon orders by the Philippine president.

What is significant in the Philippine talks is that in spite of the impasse in the table, the ceasefire is holding with the assistance of international monitors led by Malaysia. Also development initiatives with the moro rebels' designated agency are underway with the donor community's support even before a final peace accord is forged.

While in Madrid, the Spanish State Foreign Minister Leon Bernardo informed Dureza that a seasoned Spanish diplomat had already been chosen to lead a team of human rights monitors who will assist to look into the human rights situation in the country upon invitation of President Arroyo during her June visit this year. (PIA 12) [top]

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