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Gov't to declare truce with leftist rebels

MANILA, Philippines (Xinhua) - The government said today that it will soon a declare a unilateral suspension of military and police operations against the leftist rebel group New People's Army (NPA) in observance of Christmas.

Presidential spokesman Edwin Lacierda said the suspension of police and military operations against the leftist rebels has been an annual tradition.

"(The Philippine government) hopes that the NPA would reciprocate the gesture," Lacierda said.

He said President Benigno Aquino III is awaiting the formal recommendation of the Armed Forces of the Philippines concerning the dates covered by the suspension of military and police operations.

Lacierda, however, said government troops would remain on " defensive position" while the truce is in effect.  

The NPA is the armed wing of the Communist Party of the Philippines which earlier declared a truce from Nov. 8 to Dec. 24 but only in areas affected by typhoon Haiyan, locally known as " Yolanda."

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