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The U.S., Britain, Malaysia and other countries welcomed the accord.

“This agreement is a testament to the commitment of all sides for a peaceful resolution to the conflict in the southern Philippines,” Secretary of State Hillary Rodham Clinton said in a statement. “The next steps will be to ensure that the framework agreement is fully implemented.”

The new Muslim region would be built upon an existing five-province autonomous territory, among the country’s poorest and most violent, with more than 4 million people.

The Moro rebels earlier dropped a demand for a separate Muslim state and renounced terrorism.