President Gloria Arroyo said yesterday the Philippine government would agree to lift arrest warrants against Muslim separatist rebels to jump-start stalled peace talks. \nArroyo said her government was working to "build confidence in the peace process and we are preparing for the opening of talks" with the Moro Islamic Liberation Front (MILF), the country's main Muslim separatist group. \n"We are open to the suspension of warrants by the court if this is necessary [to] move the peace talks forward," the president said. \nMILF spokesman Eid Kabalu welcomed Arroyo's statement and said rebel negotiators were now prepared to resume talks in Malaysia. \n"That's a positive development. We welcome that development," Kabalu said, stressing that both sides were now "on the stage of compliance for resumption of peace talks." \n"If this will continue I think we will have a good start for the resumption of the talks," he said. \nThe MILF had earlier warned that the Muslim rebels would not return to the negotiating table unless the arrest warrants against its chief, Salamat Has-him, and other rebel negotiators are lifted. \nThe warrants were slapped against them in connection with deadly bombings in the southern Philippines this year. \n"The MILF must not tarry on the procedural issues involved, especially so that it has several lawyers and legal advisers among its ranks," Arroyo said. "We must avoid being bogged down by these matters." \nMalaysia, which has hosted preliminary peace talks, has said it would be difficult to go ahead with formal negotiations with the arrest warrants still in effect. Under the Philippines legal system only the courts can lift the warrants. \nThe 12,500-strong MILF has been waging a 25-year rebellion for the establishment of an independent Islamic state in the southern third of this mostly Roman Catholic country. \nPeace talks were suspended early this year when Arroyo accused the MILF of harboring Muslim terrorists responsible for a spate of attacks in the south, including the bombings of an airport and a wharf in the southern city of Davao that left 38 dead. \nAn MILF commander earlier Monday accused Manila of insincerity and warned of more hostilities in the south if the negotiations fell through. \nA statement posted on the MILF Web site quoted senior rebel leader Gordon Saifullah as saying the rebels were prepared to return to war immediately if efforts to resume talks collapsed. \nThe MILF earlier denounced links to the Southeast Asian Muslim terrorist group Jemaah Islamiyah and said Salamat was willing to personally sit at the negotiating table, fulfilling two conditions set by Arroyo for the talks to be revived.
Choosing a full-fledged confrontation with the US due to the loss of a megacontract for submarines for Australia, France is making a risky bet and other nations are not rushing to its defense. After Australia renounced its deal for conventional submarines in favor of US nuclear-powered ones, France took the extraordinary step of pulling its ambassadors from Washington and Canberra for consultations. Bertrand Badie, an international relations professor at the Sciences Po institute in Paris, said France had put itself in a position where it can only appear to be backing down or losing face once its ambassador returns to the US,
PAST TACTICS: In what some see as a return to hardline strategies, the new Afghan rulers hanged the body of an alleged kidnapper from a crane as warning to criminals The Taliban hanged a dead body from a crane parked in a city square in Afghanistan on Saturday in a gruesome display that signaled the hardline movement’s return to some of its brutal tactics of the past. Taliban officials initially brought four bodies to the central square in the western city of Herat, then moved three of them to other parts of the city for public display, said Wazir Ahmad Seddiqi, who runs a pharmacy on the edge of the square. Taliban officials announced that the four were caught taking part in a kidnapping earlier on Saturday and were killed by police,
A potential lurch to the left in Germany’s election on Sunday is scaring millionaires into moving assets into Switzerland, bankers and tax lawyers say. If the center-left Social Democrats (SPD), hard-left Linke and environmentalist Greens come to power, the reintroduction of a wealth tax and a tightening of inheritance tax could be on the political agenda. “For the super-rich, this is red hot,” said a German-based tax lawyer with extensive Swiss operations. “Entrepreneurial families are highly alarmed.” The move shows how many rich people still see Switzerland as an attractive place to park wealth, despite its efforts to abolish its image as a
‘SMOKESCREEN’: An agreement to declare an end to the Korean War would be ‘of no help at all’ and used to cover up ‘US hostile policy,’ a North Korean official said The influential sister of North Korean leader Kim Jong-un yesterday said it was “admirable” of South Korea to propose a formal end to the Korean War, but demanded Seoul first drop its “hostile policies” towards Pyongyang. Kim Yo-jong’s remarks, carried by the state-run Korean Central News Agency, were in response to South Korean President Moon Jae-in’s recent calls for declaring an official end to the 1950-1953 conflict that ended in a truce, not a peace treaty, leaving the two sides technically at war for more than half a century. In a speech at the UN General Assembly earlier this week, Moon proposed