OSLO, Norway – The first day of peace talks between Philippine communist rebels and the incoming government of President-elect Rodrigo Duterte has concluded on an optimistic note.
Philippines Presidential Peace Adviser Jesus Dureza describes the mood at Tuesday's talks as "upbeat." Communist Party of the Philippines founder Jose Maria Sison says he felt "elated."
The two sides are meeting at a mountain-top hotel on the outskirts of Oslo to discuss a cease-fire and an amnesty. Duterte has offered several Cabinet posts to allies of the rebels, who in turn have freed some kidnapped policemen to encourage the resumption of the talks.
Duterte takes office on June 30, so this delegation has no authority to commit to anything officially. But its mere presence signifies a change in Manila's approach to the rebels who have been fighting for a Marxist state since 1969.