Yasay joins talks with communist rebels in Rome
MANILA, Philippines – Foreign Secretary Perfecto Yasay Jr joined the 3rd round of talks with the communist National Democratic Front (NDF) that opened on Thursday, January 19, in Rome.
Yasay is present as negotiators for the government and the communist rebels begin detailed discussions on proposed reforms to the country's social and economic policies.
The NDF is pushing for the country to have an independent foreign policy, particularly from its treaty ally, the United States. (READ: Duterte's talks with NDF: The meat of the matter)
Yasay is in Rome for a bilateral meeting with his Italian counterpart Angelino Alfano.
"I'm very hopeful. I'm very confident that something positive and substantive towards an enduring and lasting peace will be achieved," Yasay told the Philippine Daily Inquirer in an interview aired live on its Facebook page.
The proposed Comprehensive Agreement on Socio-Economic Reforms (Caser) is considered the "heart and soul" of the peace talks, aiming to address widespread poverty in the Philippines.
Government chief negotiator Secretary Silvestre Bello III has expressed confidence that they can make headway in completing Caser during the talks in Rome. (WATCH: Rappler Talk: Gov't ready for 3rd round of talks with Reds and Rappler Talk: Fragile Talks with the Philippine left)
The government is also doing backchannel talks to protect a 5-month-old ceasefire between the military and the New People's Army. – Carmela Fonbuena/Rappler.com