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Arroyo says Muslim rebels helping gov't weed out terrorists.

MANILA, June 28 Kyodo

Philippine President Gloria Macapagal-Arroyo said Monday that separatist Muslim rebels, who have been negotiating peace with the government, are helping in efforts to weed out terrorists.

The peace process with the Moro Islamic Liberation Front is ''firmly on track'' and the peace panel and cease-fire committee, both comprising government and MILF representatives, ''are teaming up to weed out terrorist cells and we need to give this effort a chance,'' Arroyo said.

She made the remarks after U.S. Pacific Commander Adm. Thomas Fargo said here Sunday that the United States is concerned about the presence in the Philippines of Jemaah Islamiyah, believed to be the Southeast Asian wing of the al-Qaida terrorist network.

''We will be uncompromising against terror but we will give a chance to reasonable and feasible peace initiatives that will isolate and defeat terrorists. Our partnership with the United States for peace and development is firm,'' the president said.

The United States has committed $30 million in assistance for fighting-affected areas once a peace deal is formed between the government and the MILF, but said this would be withheld if the MILF is found to have terrorist links.

The MILF has denied aiding or cooperating with terrorists.

Fargo said new training exercises between the U.S. and Philippine militaries are underway in the Philippines to boost the country's capability to deal with terrorism.

Representatives of the MILF and the government to the ceasefire committee said on June 15 that the MILF leadership is taking all necessary steps to weed out terrorist ''virus'' from the organization.

The MILF and the government have been negotiating peace for years and have so far come up with periodic ceasefires.
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Publication:Asian Political News
Date:Jul 6, 2004
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