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Swiss mediators to meet Philippines Govt, rebels

A group of Swiss-based mediators are due to arrive in the Philippines to discuss stalled peace negotiations with government officials and Muslim leaders from the southern island of Mindanao.

world Updated: Feb 06, 2009 09:47 IST

A group of Swiss-based mediators are due to arrive in the Philippines on Sunday to discuss stalled peace negotiations with government officials and Muslim leaders from the southern island of Mindanao.

The delegation from the Geneva-based Centre for Humanitarian Dialogue will meet with the presidential advisor on the peace process in Manila before travelling to Mindanao to meet with Moro Islamic Liberation Front officials.

"The Centre is lucky enough to be able to share experiences from where it has been involved in other regions in conflict," David Gorman, mediation advisor with the Centre for Humanitarian Dialogue said in a statement.

Mindanao's Muslims have been fighting for the return of their ancestral land for more than 40 years.

The region's peace process has been at a standstill since August when the Supreme Court threw out an agreement that would have given virtual autonomy to a Muslim enclave run by the Moro Islamic Liberation Front (MILF).

Breakaway MILF commanders then went on the rampage in western and central Mindanao, killing dozens of civilians, burning villages and forcing an estimated 500,000 people to fleet their homes.

The Centre for Humanitarian Dialogue was previously involved with the peace process in southern Sudan, which Gorman said had parallels with Mindanao.

In January, a British delegation led by Jonathan Powell and Gerry Kelly, former negotiators in the Northern Ireland peace process, visited Mindanao and met with officials from the government and MILF to discuss peace efforts.