MILF weapons to go to third party: Iqbal

By Jorge Carino, ABS-CBN News

Posted at Jan 24 2014 03:32 PM | Updated as of Jan 24 2014 11:32 PM

KUALA LUMPUR, Malaysia - The chief negotiator of the Moro Islamic Liberation Front (MILF) said peace negotiations with the Government of the Philippines (GPH) are nearing closure and may lead to the signing of the Fourth Annex on Normalization this weekend.

During a break at the 43rd Formal Exploratory talks between the GPH and MILF panels, MILF Chief Negotiator Mohagher Iqbal said both parties are closing on the final point.

"We are closing really, on the final point. I hope that would be, that would happen, either tomorrow or the next day," said Iqbal.

The MILF official conceded that this phase is the most difficult part of the negotiations.

"When you are trying to climb a mountain, the peak is the most difficult to settle," he said.

Iqbal said both sides are nearing the summit as far as the two issues, Bangsamoro waters and Annex on Normalization, are concerned.

He clarified that there is still one issue left - the Comprehensive Agreement on the Bangsamoro.

Iqbal also explained that in the Annex on Normalization, there are no talks on the surrender of arms of the MILF combatants.

He said what would happen is the "decommissioning" of weapons.

"Merong third party na hahawak noon. In exchange for that, there would be redeployment of government troops, there would be disbandment of private armies and then there would have to be a police for the Bangsamoro to be organized," said Iqbal.

Iqbal said he remains optimistic on the negotiations.

"I think the mood is really to overcome the obstacle on the way. And we are actually seeing it now, that there is much confidence, there's much trust and there are so much accommodation by both party," he said.