- Title: PHILIPPINES: Philippine President meets rebel leader before peace deal signing.
- Date: 15th October 2012
- Summary: MANILA, PHILIPPINES (OCTOBER 15, 2012) (REUTERS) MORO ISLAMIC LIBERATION FRONT (MILF) CHIEF NEGOTIATOR MOHAGHER IQBAL, CHAIRMAN MURAD EBRAHIM, PHILIPPINE PRESIDENTIAL ADVISER FOR PEACE TERESITA DELES, AND PHILIPPINE GOVERNMENT CHIEF NEGOTIATOR MARVIC LEONEN INSIDE MEETING ROOM SILVER REPLICA OF PHILIPPINE TRADITIONAL HUT ON TABLE MURAD SMILING IQBAL, MURAD, AND DELES WAITING FOR AQUINO PHILIPPINE PRESIDENT BENIGNO AQUINO ENTERING ROOM AND SHAKING HANDS WITH MURAD AND IQBAL MILF LEADERS, AQUINO, AND LEONEN SEATED LEONEN LISTENING MURAD HANDING SMALL GONG TO AQUINO MURAD TAPPING GONG IQBAL LOOKING AQUINO HANDING SILVER REPLICA TO MURAD
- Embargoed: 30th October 2012 12:00
- Location: Philippines
- Country: Philippines
- Topics: Conflict,Politics
- Reuters ID: LVABV4ZNIPZ2IK4Y9JUFPEPHMIOW
- Story Text: Philippine President Benigno Aquino and Islamic rebel leader Mohagher Iqbal exchange tokens of appreciation in first-ever meeting in Manila ahead signing a key peace plan.
Philippine President Benigno Aquino met with the leader of the country's largest rebel group on Monday (October 15), ahead of the signing of a historic peace agreement that aims to end four decades of armed conflict in southern Philippines.
Aquino welcomed Moro Islamic Liberation Front (MILF) Chairman Murad Ebrahim and chief negotiator for the peace talks Mohagher Iqbal to the Philippine presidential palace, hours before the historic agreement was due to be signed.
The pact seeks to end a 40-year conflict that has killed more than 120,000 people and hampered development in the resource-rich Mindanao region in the southern Philippines.
Murad gave Aquino a gong, a traditional instrument in Mindanao, tapping it to make what he described as "the sound of peace".
In return, Aquino gave Murad a silver replica of a traditional Philippine hut.
The meeting was the first between Murad and Aquino in Manila. They held a closed-door meeting in Tokyo last year, which was in impetus to the talks.
Aquino said he plans to transform the Muslim-majority areas on Mindanao, the country's third-biggest island with large untapped mineral deposits and fertile grasslands, into a self-governing political entity known as Bangsamoro by the end of his term in 2016.
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