Philippines, Muslim rebels hope to sign pact soon
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Philippines, Muslim rebels hope to sign pact soon

KUALA LUMPUR, Malaysia (AP) — The Philippine government and the country’s largest Muslim rebel group have begun what they hope will be the final round of talks on ending a decades-long rebellion.

Negotiators from Manila and the 11,000-strong Moro Islamic Liberation Front say they hope to iron out differences over the final issues of rebel disarmament and minority Muslim control over resource-rich waters in the negotiations that started Wednesday in Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia.

(MORE: Philippines peace process: What to do with Moro rebel firearms?)

Philippine presidential adviser Teresita Deles says an agreement on those issues will conclude the yearslong talks and lead to the signing of a peace pact.

Despite the optimism, both sides warned a peace pact would not immediately end violence in the southern Philippines, where at least three other armed Islamic groups operate.