Philippines, Muslim rebels agree on peace pact

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MANILA, Philippines — The Philippine government and the country’s largest Muslim rebel group have reached a preliminary peace deal that is a major breakthrough toward ending a decades-long insurgency that killed tens of thousands and held back development in the south.

Philippine President Benigno Aquino III said the “framework agreement” calling for an autonomous region for minority Muslims in the predominantly Roman Catholic nation was an assurance the Moro Islamic Liberation Front insurgents will no longer aim to secede.

The agreement, announced Sunday and to be signed Oct. 15 in Manila, spells out principles on major issues, including the extent of power, revenues and territory of the Muslim region. If all goes well, a final peace deal could be reached by 2016, when Aquino’s six-year term ends, officials said.

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