Colombia says closer than ever to peace with rebels

from Agence France-Presse
Published on 26 Jun 2013

06/27/2013 22:37 GMT

SANTIAGO, June 27, 2013 (AFP) - Colombia is closer than ever to a peace deal with Marxist FARC rebels after 10 rounds of talks to end their half-century-old conflict, the country's foreign minister said Thursday.

"We are convinced that this is the moment in which Colombia has been the closest to peace," Maria Angela Holguin told reporters after meeting her Chilean counterpart in Santiago.

Government and rebel negotiators struck a first deal on May 26 on land reform, resolving one of the thorniest issues on the negotiating table at the talks hosted by Cuba.

"It's the first time that an agreement is reached with the FARC on something, so we value this enormously," Holguin said.

The talks, which opened in November in the Cuban capital Havana, are the fourth attempt since the 1980s to bring peace to Colombia.

But the negotiations are taking place without a ceasefire and face many obstacles, including whether the rebels can avoid jail before returning to civilian life, the FARC's role in drug trafficking, as well as disarmament and compensation for victims.

The war has ravaged Colombia for fifty years and has left 600,000 dead, more than 3.7 million displaced and 15,000 missing.


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