Joma Sison welcomes one-on-one talk with Duterte

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(L-R) Pres. Rody Duterte, Joma Sison

Metro Manila (CNN Philippines, January 15) — Communist leader Joma Sison on Monday said he welcomes having a private talk with President Rodrigo Duterte over the resumption of the peace negotiations.

"In the interest of the Filipino people and for the sake and purpose of resuming the peace negotiations, I am willing to have serious conversations with President Duterte," Sison said in a statement.

Sison, founder of the Communist Party of the Philippines (CPP), proposed that he and the President could meet in a neighboring country for the one-on-one talk.

The communist leader has been in self-exile in the Netherlands since 1987. In November last year, Duterte said he will not allow Sison to set foot in the country, threatening his arrest.

Sison's remark follows presidential spokesperson Harry Roque's statement Sunday, saying Duterte is open to having a private conversation with Sison. He said, however, the President is closed to peace talks for now.

READ: Roque: Duterte wants to have private talk with Joma Sison

Roque, in a press briefing Monday, said the New People's Army (NPA) must first show humility, citing the communist rebels' offensives against government troopers while peace talks were ongoing.

The NPA is the armed wing of the CPP, while its political arm negotiating with the government is the National Democratic Front of the Philippines.

Roque clarified the one-on-one talk between Sison and Duterte is not a pre-condition for the resumption of the peace talks.

"It is not as if the President said he is willing to resume peace talks after he talks to Joma Sison. No. What he said was kailangan magpakumbaba muna ang NPA (What he said was the NPA must first show humility)," Roque said.

He added the NPA must respect the sovereignty of the Philippines, and that they must refrain from bringing up talks of power-sharing during peace negotiations.

The government in November ended the peace talks with the CPP-NPA-NDFP, following the escalation of attacks and violence.

READ: How peace talks with communist rebels failed

Before Duterte terminated talks with the communists, the long-stalled fifth round of peace negotiations was scheduled for November 25 to 27, 2017 in Norway.

The Norwegian government had acted as third party facilitator of the talks to put an end to the 48-year-old insurgency, the longest-running in Asia.

Last December, Duterte declared the CPP-NPA movement a terrorist organization.