Japan to host MILF delegation

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05:56 PM March 11th, 2013

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By: Tarra Quismundo, March 11th, 2013 05:56 PM

MANILA, Philippines–Amid continuing talks with the Philippine government, a delegation from the Moro Islamic Liberation Front is set to fly to Japan next week for a visit seen to “help finalize the Mindanao peace process,” the Japanese Ministry of Foreign Affairs said Monday.

In a statement, the Japanese MOFA said MILF members led by peace panel chair Mohagher Iqbal will visit Japan from Mar. 17 to 23 to meet with foreign ministry officials, the first time for an MILF delegation to undertake an official visit to Japan.

“It is expected that the visit of the MILF peace negotiating panel members can help finalize the Mindanao peace process,” said the MOFA, which also noted that recent peace talks have made “substantial progress” in the 40-year conflict between the Philippine government and Islamic rebel groups in Mindanao.

The Japanese Embassy in Manila has yet to release details of the trip, including the Japanese officials the MILF delegation is expected to meet and the places they will visit.

Japan has been keenly following the Mindanao peace process as a member of the International Monitoring Team since 2006 and an observer in the International Contact Group since 2009.

It previously hosted an informal meeting between President Aquino and MILF chair Al Haj Murad in Aug. 2011, which set the ball rolling on peace talks that led to last year’s signing of a framework agreement to establish a Bangsamoro juridical entity by 2016.

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