Philippine revolt's end in doubt

MANILA: Key talks in Norway later this month to end the 40-year communist insurgence in the Philippines were thrown into doubt on Wednesday, the rebels' top negotiator said.

Netherlands-based Luis Jalandoni said in a statement to news agencies in Manila that the government's failure to release jailed guerrilla leaders was to blame.

"It is now doubtful whether the meetings scheduled for August 28 to September 5 in Oslo would be held," Jalandoni said.

"There are strong indications that the (Philippine government) intends to scuttle the resumption of formal talks."

President Gloria Arroyo's chief adviser on the peace talks, being revived after they were shelved in 2005, announced Tuesday that a number of jailed senior communist leaders are to be freed so they can take part in the talks as "consultants".

However, Jalandoni said that the government was making it "difficult or impossible the release of other detained (rebel) consultants."

He said the rebels also want the government to withdraw criminal charges against rebel consultants who have outstanding warrants for arrest.

Jalandoni warned Manila's failure to provide those whom the rebels designate as their negotiators or consultants for the peace talks blanket immunity would lead to the "scuttling (of) the Oslo meeting this month and probably the entire peace negotiations."