Talks, Not War May Solve Philippine Conflict: Duterte

Talks, not war may solve Philippine conflict: Duterte

ZAMBOANGA, Philippines, , (APP - UrduPoint / Pakistan Point News - 25th Nov, 2016 ) : Philippine President Rodrigo Duterte raised the prospect Friday of holding peace talks with Abu Sayyaf, an Islamic militant group which has abducted dozens of foreign sailors in recent months, offering federalism as a possible solution.

In an apparent about-face, Duterte appealed to the Abu Sayyaf, who are also blamed for the country's deadliest terror attacks, to come to the negotiating table. "We cannot be forever treating human beings here, seriously wounded," he told reporters at a military hospital in the southern port of Zamboanga where he visited troops wounded in an offensive he had ordered against the militants.

"Let us talk. Let us give our people a chance." The Philippine government is already observing a ceasefire with the region's largest Muslim guerrilla force, the Moro Islamic Liberation Front.

Earlier this year Duterte had said he could not talk peace with the Abu Sayyaf because they were not driven by ideology.

Many analysts say the Abu Sayyaf is mainly focused on running a kidnapping business rather than religious ideology. However, Duterte conceded Friday military strikes on militants could prove devastating for civilians living in remote islands where the militants are embedded.

"I can bomb more if I want to," Duterte said. Duterte added: "Either we talk, if you want autonomy or if you want something else, federalism, I am ready. I am committed to (a) federalism set-up to appease the Moro," he said, using a general term for Filipino Muslims.