Philippines hopes Malaysia will keep mediating with Muslim separatists

The Philippines expressed hope Wednesday that neighboring Malaysia will continue mediating between the Manila government and Muslim rebels despite announcing a decision to pull out its truce monitors. The decision has disappointed the Philippine government, but its chief negotiator, Rodolfo Garcia, said Kuala Lumpur would hopefully continue its role as a mediator. He said he did not think Malaysia would condemn the peace process to failure. "They are brother Asians. They are very much concerned about what happens in the region." The separatist Moro Islamic Liberation Front has blamed the Philippine government for the Malaysian monitors' withdrawal, saying Manila negotiators were dragging their feet in concluding an agreement that would end decades of fighting. Malaysian-brokered talks hit a snag in December when rebel negotiators walked away from a meeting to protest Manila's insistence that any accord should conform to the Philippine Constitution.