Norwegian Government is Welcomed to Host Peace Talks Between the Philippine Government and the Communist

President of the Philippines, Gloria Macapagal-Arroyo has accepted the offer of the Norwegian government on January 23, 2008 to host the talks on restarting peace negotiations between the Philippine government and the Communist Party of the Philippines-National Democratic Front (CPP-NDF).
Executive Secretary Eduardo Ermita said at his weekly press briefing at the New Executive Building in Malacanang that the National Security Council-Cabinet Group has agreed to restart the peace negotiation with the communist rebels.
He said the NSC-Cabinet Group headed by President Gloria Macapagal-Arroyo was receptive to the Norwegian government’s offer of assistance to the Philippine government’s effort to forge a peace agreement and end the decades-old communist insurgency in the country.
“The peace process with them (communist rebels) is still open. We just have to continue to dialogue with them. Norway is our go-between,” Ermita said.
He added, however, that the NSC-Cabinet Group reiterated its position that the rebels should agree to a cessation of hostilities before informal talks could proceed.
“We can talk, but reconsider your (NDF) position about the need for the cessation of hostilities so that we can come out successful in the negotiation,” Ermita said.
He refuted claims by the NDF that the government was “stonewalling” by insisting on the cessation of hostilities as a prelude to the resumption of the exploratory talks.
The government is committed to negotiations as the only peaceful means to end the long drawn-out communist rebellion in the country, Ermita said.
He added that National Security Adviser Norberto Gonzales had already informed the Norwegian government, through its resident ambassador in the country, that the Philippine government is ready and willing to hold exploratory talks with the NDF.

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