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Philippine Communist Rebels to Abandon Peace Talks

Manila - Communist rebels in the Philippines said they were abandoning attempts to restart peace talks with President Benigno Aquino, which have been floundering since April.

"In view of the proven unwillingness of the Aquino regime to negotiate a just peace, the revolutionary movement does not expect the resumption of peace negotiations," the Communist Party of the Philippines (CPP) said Thursday, its 45th anniversary.

The party "has no choice but to wait for the next regime to engage in serious negotiations," it said in a statement, adding it would try to oust Aquino's administration.

The movement slammed the government for not recognizing previous agreements, refusing to release all communist prisoners, and not excluding CPP leaders from possible arrest and raids.

Peace talks broke down in April, with both sides claiming negotiations were going nowhere.

The news came at the end of a first ceasefire announced by the CPP this month.

It said its armed wing, the New People's Army, would hold its fire from December 24 to December 26, and from December 31 to January 2. The ceasefire would be extended until mid-January in the typhoon-hit central provinces of Samar and Leyte.

The NPA is the longest-running communist insurgency in Asia, with more than 110 guerrilla fronts in 71 out of 81 Philippine provinces, according to the CPP.

In June, three soldiers were killed and another injured by a landmine during a clash with the rebels.

Local rights groups have criticized the authorities for heavy-handed crackdowns in areas where the rebels are active.

The government last year signed a framework peace agreement with another rebel group, the Moro Islamic Liberation Front, which is seeking greater autonomy in the southern Philippines.

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