Sun, Aug 24, 2014 - Page 7 News List

Colombia, FARC edge to ceasefire


Talks to end Colombia’s five-decade conflict entered what the government called a “decisive phase” on Friday, as Colombian army officers and Revolutionary Armed Forces of Colombia (FARC) rebels began work on the terms of an eventual ceasefire.

The creation of the “subcommission” to propose the framework for a ceasefire marks the first time active combatants from both sides have come together around the same table during the nearly two-year-old peace negotiations.

“We have entered a decisive moment in the process. There is a real possibility of ending the conflict,” chief government negotiator Humberto de la Calle said.

The panel’s launch closely followed two other key developments at the talks in Havana: the launch of a “historical commission” tasked with tracing the origins and effects of the conflict, and the start of testimony from victims.

“This [past] week, we have put in march three enormously important mechanisms that are going to strengthen and guide the delegations’ work in this decisive phase,” de la Calle said.

He said the new subcommission, headed on the government’s side by the army’s top general, Javier Florez, would not negotiate the actual ceasefire, but rather “prepare possible future mechanisms” for a ceasefire to pass on to the delegations.

Chief FARC negotiator Ivan Marquez said that the subcommission meant that for the first time “active members of both sides’ armed forces ... are sitting down as equals to begin discussions.”

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