Breakthrough in Philippine peace talks

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Norway’s foreign ministry, which has been facilitating talks in Oslo this week for peace in the Philippines, announced a new breakthrough in the lengthy process on Friday. Both sides agreed to sign a declaration committing them to unilateral ceasefires with no time limits on them.

Norwegian Foreign Minister Børge Brende called the agreement “important” as the Oslo phase of talks wound down between the government of the Philippines and the country’s communist movement NDFP (National Democratic Front of the Philippines).

The ceasefire agreement has been negotiated during the past few days at Oslo’s Holmenkollen Park Hotel, where the peace talks began on Monday. Norway’s foreign ministry noted that it was a positive result of the latest resumption of negotiations after years of conflict of in the Philippines.

Brende, who was optimistic when the talks began earlier this week, was to be present at the signing of the ceasefire declaration at midday on Friday. He had cautioned that peace talks are always complicated and that expectations should not be too high.

Others had said it was a breakthrough simply to get the two sides together in Oslo, around the same table. The conflict between the government and NDFP in the Philippines has dragged on for more than 45 years.

It’s been a good week for Brende and Norwegian peace brokers. On Thursday, he and Prime Minister Erna Solberg could also hail a peace pact signed between the government of Colombia and the militant guerrilla group FARC. Norway had worked for years to broker a peace deal in Colombia, most recently with support from Cuba, Chile and Venezuela. It’s expected to end decades of armed conflict in Colombia. Berglund