Government of Norway extended its congratulations to the negotiating panels of the Philippines and the National Democratic Front (NDF) for moving ahead in seeking an end to the armed conflict following the signing of an agreement that will lead to a permanent cessation of hostilities.

Ambassador Martin Sorby, the Norwegian envoy to The Netherlands, said his government was very much elated with the advance of the peace talks as both panels signed a pact that set off mechanisms for a joint ceasefire between state forces and the New People’s Army (NPA).

The Royal Norwegian Government has been facilitating the talks between the GRP and the NDF since 2001.

Ambassador Martin Sorby met key members of both the Philippine and NDF delegations at his residence here shortly after the Agreement on a Joint Interim Ceasefire was sealed on Wednesday on the second day of the 4th round of formal talks at the Radisson Blu Palace in the cold town of Noordwiijk, about 50 kilometers southwest of Amsterdam.

The delegations were accompanied by Elisabeth Slattum, the Norwegian special envoy to the peace process.

The Philippine delegation to the meeting was led by Presidential Adviser on the Peace Process Jesus Dureza and panel member Rene Sarmiento while the NDF team was represented by its political consultant Jose Ma. Sison and negotiating panel head Fidel Agcaoili and Luis Jalandoni.

Dureza thanked the Royal Norwegian Government for hosting the formal talks in The Netherlands and for its full support being the third party facilitator of the peace talks. Jalandoni also extolled Norway for its efforts in the peace process.

Also present during the meeting were Secretary Rafael Mariano of the Department of Agrarian Reform (DAR), Representatives Henry Ong of Leyte and Ruby Sahali of Mindanao, and Undersecretary Adora Navarro of the National Economic Development Authority (NEDA).

Sison and Agcaoili were joined by NDF senior adviser Satur Ocampo and members of the NDF negotiating panel couple Benito and Wilma Tiamzon, Juliet Sison, Connie Ledesma, Rafael Baylosis and Vicente Ladlad. –