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Thursday, 8 March, 2001, 14:20 GMT
Arroyo calls for truce with communists
NPA Philippines
The NPA is still holding an army officer hostage
By Manila correspondent John McLean

The Philippine President Gloria Arroyo has called for a limited ceasefire with the main communist guerrilla movement to accelerate the resumption of peace talks.

President Gloria Arroyo
President Arroyo is keen to restart peace talks
The announcement comes after a senior policeman held prisoner by the communist New People's Army was killed during fighting between the guerrillas and government troops early on Thursday.

Mrs Arroyo's offer is part of her efforts to bring the Philippines' two main rebel groups back to the negotiating table.

Last month, she announced a unilateral ceasefire with Muslim separatist guerrillas in the south of the country.

Peace talks with both the Muslim separatists and the communists had collapsed under Mrs Arroyo's predecessor, Joseph Estrada, who was deposed in January by a popular uprising.

Hostage

The police hostage who died during Thursday's gunbattle would probably have been released shortly as part of an agreement to restart peace talks.

But a chance encounter between his captors and the army resulted in the chief inspector being shot. He died later from his wounds.

The offer of a ceasefire with the guerrillas in certain areas of the country is meant to ensure that a similar fate does not befall another NPA prisoner, an army officer, who is expected to be released soon.

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See also:

20 Feb 01 | Asia-Pacific
Arroyo orders ceasefire with rebels
20 Jan 01 | Asia-Pacific
Challenges confronting Arroyo
21 Jan 01 | Asia-Pacific
Arroyo moves to bolster economy
20 Jan 01 | Asia-Pacific
Gloria Arroyo: Contrast in styles
20 Feb 01 | Asia-Pacific
Southern Philippines' uneasy history
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