Bello: Peace talks with communist rebels likely to resume next year

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Metro Manila (CNN Philippines, December 11) — Peace talks with communist rebels are likely to resume next year, a former government peace negotiatior said Wednesday.

Labor Secretary and former peace negotiator Silvestre Bello said during his discussion with communist leaders earlier this month, they were amenable to almost all of the conditions laid down by President Rodrigo Duterte.

"They agreed to the resumption. Ninety percent of what President asked was positively reacted to, (the) 10 percent under consideration pa (still)," Bello added,

He said that he had a 21-hour meeting with Communist Party of the Philippines founder Jose Maria "Joma" Sison, National Democratic Front of the Philippines senior adviser Luis Jalandoni and NDFP chief negotiator Fidel Agcaoili earlier this month.

He added that he would discuss details further with Duterte in a meeting Wednesday evening.

In a speech last week, the President said that he will send Bello, along with the rest of the government peace panel, to negotiate with Sison in March.

READ: Duterte to send ex-negotiator Bello to speak to Joma Sison

Bello said discussions are still ongoing on where the talks may be held. The government wants these to be conducted in the Philippines.

In a statement posted on Facebook, Sison said that they want the peace talks to be held in a "foreign neutral venue."

"The NDFP cannot trust any 'no arrest' declaration from the (government) side unless the repressive issuances and campaigns of Duterte are ended, the political prisoners are amnestied and released, the Comprehensive Agreement on Social and Economic Reforms (CASER) and a bilateral ceasefire are already in place," Sison said.

He added that it is hard to trust that the Duterte regime is not trying to lay out a trap, claiming that government forces planted evidence in order to arrest other NDFP consultants.

READ: NDFP consultant Vic Ladlad arrested

"The NDFP is under no obligation to negotiate with a regime that is already discredited and is running out of time," Sison said.

CNN Philippines' senior correspondent Ina Andolong and digital producer Luchi de Guzman contributed to this story.