Philippine troops held talks with Muslim secessionist rebels in an emergency meeting on July 9 in an attempt to defuse rising tensions. Since May, when Malaysian peace monitors started pulling out, the two sides have been accusing each other of violating a five-old ceasefire, putting at risk talks to set up a homeland for 3 million Muslims. This was the first time the Malaysian-led monitoring team has called the two sides for talks to discuss the actual situation on the ground and prevent skirmishes from escalating to a full blown conflict. (Reuters)

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