Petaling Jaya (The Star/ANN) - Malaysia's efforts to help resolve the conflict in southern Philippines could soon reach a breakthrough with a landmark peace treaty in sight.
Apparently, the latest round of talks between the Moro Islamic Liberation Front (MILF) and the Philippine government is now in its last lap, with only two to three issues left to be resolved before a deal is sealed.
Negotiators at the talks taking place in Kuala Lumpur since Tuesday have adopted a cautious approach as failure to agree on the remaining issues can delay a final settlement.
A settlement would help usher peace in the mainly Muslim island of Mindanao, the site of a rebel uprising which led to clashes with government forces that killed thousands in the past four decades.
A peace deal would also be a significant success for Malaysia, which has offered its assistance to resolve the conflict by facilitating and hosting the talks.
Since 2001, Malaysia has been spearheading peace initiatives in southern Philippines on behalf of the Organisation of the Islamic Conference.
Prime Minister Datuk Seri Najib Tun Razak, after a meeting with Philippine president Benigno Aquino on Sept. 9 in Vladivostok on the sidelines of the 2012 Apec Summit, said a peace treaty could be signed by the end of the year.
Najib also expressed a wish to be present when that takes place.