MANILA, Nov 29 (Reuter) - Communist rebels on Friday suspended peace talks with the Philippine government after Manila refused to release a detained leftist leader.
In a statement, the rebel group accused the government of "gross violation" of their agreement on safety and immunity guarantees after military agents detained National Democratic Front of the Philippines (NDFP) consultant Danilo Borjal.
"The NDFP has taken this decision after it has found out that military agents who have arrested, interrogated and detained (Danilo) Borjal since November 21 have grossly violated his rights as NDFP consultant," said Luis Jalandoni, chairman of the NDFP negotiating panel.
Jalandoni faxed the statement to news agencies from NDFP offices in the Dutch city of Utrecht. Jalandoni and other NDFP leaders have been living in exile in the Netherlands since 1987.
The government said "conditions" necessary for Borjal to be covered under the immunity agreement were not present.
Borjal did not have proper identification as an NDFP consultant and was carrying an unlicensed firearm when arrested, the Philippine panel negotiating with the NDFP said in a separate statement.
The NDFP, the umbrella group of leftist organisations in the country, said it was considering terminating the negotiations with the government on how to end the communist insurgency due to "repeated violations" of the immunity agreement.
President Fidel Ramos initiated peace talks with Moslem and communist rebels after he assumed power in 1992 in an effort to bring dissidents back to Philippine society.
This year, the government suceeded in signing a peace pact with the main Moslem rebel group in the southern Philippines.
The communist rebels have been fighting for a Marxist state in a 27-year insurgency that has killed more than 40,000 people.
The military says their armed strength has declined from a peak of over 26,000 in the late 1980s to about 5,000 now due to the collapse of communism in Europe, party splits and the surrender of guerrillas to the government.
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