Philippines, Muslim rebel group sign peace deal

Associated Press
Filipino Muslim girls flash the peace sign during a rally in support of a preliminary peace agreement between the government and the nation's largest Muslim rebel group outside the Malacanang presidential palace in Manila, Philippines, on Sunday Oct. 14, 2012. About 200 Muslim rebels led by their elusive chief arrived in the Philippine capital on Sunday for the signing of a preliminary peace pact aimed at ending one of Asia's longest-running insurgencies. (AP Photo/Aaron Favila)
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MANILA, Philippines (AP) — The Philippine government and the country's largest Muslim rebel group have signed a preliminary peace pact aimed at ending one of Asia's longest-running insurgencies.

It marks the first major step toward a final settlement that grants minority Muslims in the southern Philippines broad autonomy in exchange for ending more than 40 years of violence that has killed tens of thousands of people and crippled development.

The framework agreement was signed Monday afternoon by government negotiator Marvic Leonen and his counterpart from the Moro Islamic Liberation Front, Mohagher Iqbal.

Also on hand to witness the historic moment at Manila's Malacanang presidential palace were President Benigno Aquino III, rebel chairman Al Haj Murad Ebrahim and Malaysian Prime Minister Najib Razak, whose country helped broker the deal.

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