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Reds want peace talks in 3rd qtr

Informal talks between the government and the Communist Party of the Philippines-National Democratic Front will likely resume in the third quarter of the year, CPP founding chairman Jose Ma. Sison told The Standard in an interview from Utrecht.

Sison said it is still possible to hammer out a ceasefire agreement within the term of President Benigno Aquino III, a positive take on the peace negotiations that have remained stalled since February 2011.

“It is possible to have informal talks within the third quarter of the year. That is our expectation,” he said.

Heart-to-heart. Communist leader Jose Maria Sison, founder of the
 Communist Party of the Philippines, explains a point to Speaker
 Feliciano Belmonte Jr. during a dinner at a Japanese restaurant in
Amsterdam, Holland on Friday where they discussed the resumption
 of the stalled peace talks. NATIONAL DEMOCRATIC FRONT
“Efforts of the Norwegian special envoy Ambassador Elisabeta Slottum are ongoing to bring both parties to a consensus on the procedures for the informal talks that will set the agenda of the formal talks,” Sison added.

Sison said NDF chairman Luis Jalandoni has already sent a letter to Slottum detailing suggestions for the procedures for the informal talks.

The two communist leaders recently met with lawmakers, led by Speaker Feliciano Belmonte Jr., at a Japanese restaurant in Amsterdam where they discussed the possibility of reviving the negotiations.

“It was a friendly and informal conversation. Speaker Belmonte said our conversation was a confidence-building measure. Louie (Jalandoni) told them that the House leadership can play a crucial role in promoting the peace negotiations,” Sison said.

“I told them there is still time to hammer out a truce and cooperation agreement as well as a Comprehensive Agreement on Social and Economic Reforms before Aquino’s term ends,” he added.

Malacañang, for its part, said the meeting in Amsterdam was a welcome development as it expressed readiness to resume peace talks with the communist rebels.

“It is good that they had a chance to talk about the peace process. As you know, our government panel is ready to talk peace with the CPP-NDF. But we first we have to put some things in order so that the talks could resume,” presidential spokesman Edwin Lacierda said.

In an earlier interview, Belmonte said Sison and Jalandoni did not impose “preconditions” to what he called an “initiative” to get the stalled peace talks with the rebels back on track.

He said he would report to President Aquino the “informative dinner” that he had with the communist leaders.

Belmonte is with the 35-member Philippine delegation to The Hague, where the country is arguing its case against China over disputes in the West Philippine Sea.

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