MANILA, Philippines – The Philippine president says he wants to hold peace talks with the two largest Muslim rebel groups in the south at the same time and prefers to negotiate rather than confront China on their territorial disputes.
Despite his peace overtures, President Rodrigo Duterte on Friday assured government troops on southern Jolo Island, a hotbed of Muslim militancy, that they would be provided with better weapons while the conflicts rage.
Duterte says: "I would like to appeal to all that we stop this war. I am pleading so there will no longer be blood."
Duterte jokes that if local insurgencies ease, troops can wait for a possible war with China but turns serious and says: "We're not in a hurry to wage war, we're in a hurry to talk."