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Rebels Reject Terror; State Calls for Talks

June 23, 2003|From Times Wire Reports

The Moro Islamic Liberation Front, a rebel group, issued a statement rejecting terrorism, prompting the government to say it was ready to declare a permanent cease-fire and restart negotiations on ending a decades-old insurgency.

MILF chairman Salamat Hashim said terrorism "is anathema to the teachings of Islam" and that his group rejects "any link with terrorist organizations." Manila has accused the rebels of ties with the Jemaah Islamiah terrorist group.

Government negotiator Eduardo Ermita welcomed the statement and said a request has been sent to Malaysia, which has been brokering peace talks, to deploy cease-fire observers in the southern Philippines.

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