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Saturday, August 20, 2016, 16:30

Duterte declares ceasefire to reciprocate rebel truce

By Xinhua

MANILA - Philippine President Rodrigo Duterte declared on Saturday a ceasefire to pave the way for the peace talks with communist rebels in Oslo, Norway next week, Presidential Peace Adviser Jesus Dureza told a news conference.

Earlier today

Rodrigo Duterte was expected to declare a ceasefire on Saturday to reciprocate a week-long truce that the communist rebels announced, presidential communication secretary Martin Andanar said.

Andanar told ABS-CBN News Channel in an interview that Duterte has "expressed his willingness to reciprocate" the ceasefire that the rebels announced on Friday night.

"As to the official announcement we should be expecting it within the day," said Andanar, adding the details of the government ceasefire will be announced later.

"As to the date, the schedule and how long the ceasefire will be (are) still under discussion" between Duterte and Presidential Peace Adviser Jesus Dureza and Defense Secretary Delfin Lorenzana, " he said.

Andanar said Duterte "has already walked an extra mile for peace."

"He is glad that the (communist rebels) showed a similar gesture of goodwill as a sign of sincerity to the peace process days prior to our talks in Oslo, Norway," Andanar added, referring to the formal peace talks between the government and the rebels that will start next week.

"We therefore feel optimistic that the mutual efforts of both sides would lead to fruitful negotiations that could pave the way for substantive discussions in the hope of putting an end to one of Asia's longest-running insurgencies," he said.

The Communist Party of the Philippines declared on Friday a seven-day unilateral ceasefire ahead of the resumption of the peace in Oslo that starts on Monday.

The rebels said the ceasefire will take effect 12:01 am on Aug.21 and will last until 11:59 pm on Aug 27.

"This ceasefire declaration is encouraged by the (Philippine government's) facilitation of the release of the nearly all National Democratic Front of the Philippines consultants who are set to participate in peace negotiations in the course of the next several months," the rebels said in a statement.

The formal talks will kick off on Aug 22 and will continue until Aug 26.

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