MANILA, (Reuters) – Philippine President Rodrigo Duterte said on Saturday he had set a 60-day timeframe for peace talks he is seeking to revive with communist guerrillas, urging the rebels’ exiled leader to come home to hammer out a deal.
The conflict between the government and the New People’s Army (NPA), the armed wing of the communist party, has raged for half a century and killed more than 40,000 people.
In February, a Norwegian diplomat met Mr Duterte to try to convince him to restart negotiations that the president had scrapped in anger at what he considers duplicity by the communists.
Earlier this month Mr Duterte ordered his cabinet to work on a truce to enable talks, but the communist rebels have rejected any preconditions. Jose Maria Sison, leader of the Communist Party of the Philippines has been in exile in the Netherlands since his release from prison in the late 1980s.
“I am talking to Sison now. It is an off and on thing (and) probably the military and the police have misgivings,” Mr Duterte said in Legazpi in central Philippines.