MANILA, July 19 (Xinhua) -- The Philippine government said Wednesday it has decided to cancel informal talks with leftist rebels scheduled "within the next few days" in Europe in the wake of the series of attacks launched by the rebels against government forces in the past few weeks.
Government Peace Adviser Jesus Dureza said in a statement that "the situation on the ground necessary to provide the desired enabling environment for the conduct of peace negotiations is still not present up to this time."
Dureza was apparently referring to the separate rebel attacks Wednesday on traveling presidential security men at Arakan town in Cotabato province in the southern Philippines that resulted in the killing of a militia man and the wounding of five presidential guards, and the killings of two unarmed marine soldiers who were buying vegetables at a market in Palawan province.
Wednesday's attacks in Cotabato and Palawan are among the latest offensives launched by the rebels in recent weeks.
With the cancellation of the "backchannel talks," the prospects for the resumption of the fifth round of formal talks between the government and rebels have further dimmed.
Last May, the government cancelled the fifth round of peace negotiations with leftist rebels in Noordwijk of the Netherlands after the rebels called on its armed wing, the New People's Army (NPA), to intensify offensive operations.
Norway is brokering the ongoing formal peace negotiations, acting as the third party facilitator of the talks since 2001.
The government said the fifth round of formal talks may resume next month, saying government negotiators plan to meet informally to decide on the details of the next round of formal talks.
But with the recent developments, talks to end one of Asia's longest running insurgencies will have to wait.