Moro names envoy to peace talks

Muslim separatists have told Malaysia they would send their leader Salamat Hashim to lead peace talks with the Philippines government, an aide to President Gloria Arroyo said on Thursday.

    Hashim Salamat to lead
    the talks for peace

    The Moro Islamic Liberation Front (MILF) has given the names of five negotiators to the Malaysian government for the talks, scheduled to begin in the next few days. Among the five are Hashim Salamat, presidential spokesman Ignacio Bunye said over government radio.


    However, Bunye said there were warrants out for the arrest of Hashim and other key lieutenants for their alleged role in two bombings in the southern city of Davao earlier this year that claimed at least 38 lives.


    The MILF must initiate legal moves, he said, adding that they had to make representations to the court, through their lawyers' support, to ensure the warrant was not enforced.


    Malaysian ambassador Taufik Mohamed Noor said last week he hoped the Arroyo government would take steps to have the arrest warrants lifted so the MILF leaders would have peace of mind when they travelled to Kuala Lumpur for the talks.


    However, the Phillipines government has since said it was up to the MILF to take steps to have the arrest warrant lifted.


    The 12,500-member MILF has been waging a decades-old guerrilla war to set up an Islamic state in the southern third of the mainly Roman Catholic Philippine islands.


    Six killed



    Meanwhile, a soldier and five members of the smaller Islamist Abu Sayyaf group were killed in a clash in the southern Philippine island of Jolo, military officials said in Zamboanga on Thursday.


    Soldiers saw the guerrillas dragging away five of their slain comrades, he added.


    The Abu Sayyaf is held responsible for a spate of bombings and kidnappings mostly targetting foreigners in the south.



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