Colombian government, rebels to resume peace talks
BOGOTA (AFP) – Colombia’s government and leftist FARC rebels resume peace talks in Cuba on Monday after a three-week break, under pressure to finally end their decades-long conflict.
The longtime rivals launched the negotiations in October, their fourth attempt in three decades to end a conflict that has left 600,000 people dead, 15,000 missing and four million displaced since 1964.
After a holiday break on December 22, the talks take on increasing urgency this year, as President Juan Manuel Santos has warned that the negotiations must conclude by November.
Chief government negotiator Humberto de la Calle said Sunday that Bogota wanted to pick up the pace of its negotiations with Marxist FARC rebels.
“We really need to get things moving. I want to make that known to people in general, as well as to the FARC,” former vice president de la Calle told reporters before his departure for Havana.
The guerrilla group declared a unilateral ceasefire until January 20, but the government has accused them of failing to respect it by planting landmines and attacking civilians and soldiers. It has continued its offensive against the rebels.
“The Colombian public forces will continue to tirelessly pursue criminals, as the constitution and all the Colombian people demand,” Defence Minister Juan Carlos Pinzon said Friday. “It does not matter whether they are FARC terrorists” or criminal gangs, he added.