Manila: Philippine officials and the largest Muslim rebel group in the country say they expect to conclude a peace accord as early as next month despite unresolved issues, including the delicate task of disarming the 11,000-strong guerrilla force.

Government negotiator Miriam Ferrer and rebel negotiator Mohagher Iqbal of the Moro Islamic Liberation Front separately said Wednesday that a peace pact could be reached in May or June. They expressed confidence that the remaining issues could be resolved in the next round of negotiations this month in Malaysia, which has been brokering the talks.

Armed followers of a Filipino Muslim royal clan barged into Malaysia's Sabah state in February to revive an old territorial claim, sparking deadly clashes, but Malaysia has continued brokering the talks despite the crisis.