Colombia, FARC signal progress in peace talks

Report
from Agence France-Presse
Published on 31 Oct 2013

10/31/2013 13:59 GMT

HAVANA, October 31, 2013 (AFP) - The Colombian government and the leftist guerrilla group FARC said Thursday they were extending their latest round of peace negotiations, signaling progress on a key issue in the year-old talks.

The sides agreed to continue talking until Monday "with the objective of advancing the discussion and building an agreement on the second point of the agenda," a FARC representative Marcos Calarca said.

Negotiators have been trying to reach agreement on how former rebels should be reintegrated into the country's political life once their nearly 50-year-old insurgency ends.

The issue is one of five that form the agenda for the talks in Havana, which began in November 2012.

They have agreed on only one other agenda point so far: how to approach land reform and rural development issues that lie at the root of Latin America's longest running insurgency.

The head of the government delegation, former vice president Humberto de la Calle, confirmed that negotiators had agreed to extend the current session, which was supposed to have ended Thursday.

He said the talks should continue "without pause" until Monday, with the aim of reaching "a concrete agreement on point two, on citizen participation."

On Saturday, President Juan Manuel Santos had asked the FARC to "step on the accelerator" in the talks "to continue making progress in the agreements."

The head of the rebel delegation, Ivan Marquez, responded that for there to be progress the government had to stop "placing unnecessary obstacles to every proposal we make for achieving social transformations."

If an agreement is reached on political reintegration, negotiators still need to resolve three other thorny issues: drug trafficking, reparations for victims of the conflict and disarming the rebels.

The FARC, which stands for the Revolutionary Armed Forces of Colombia, is estimated to have about 8,000 fighters under arms.

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