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Sun Jul 28, 2013 7:43AM
Colombia’s President Juan Manuel Santos

Colombia’s President Juan Manuel Santos

The Colombian government has refused to hold a ceasefire with the Revolutionary Armed Forces of Colombia (FARC) ahead of a new round of scheduled peace negotiations. Colombian President Juan Manuel Santos said on Saturday that there would be no truce until the two groups agree on a five-point agenda. “So (now, too) the military offensive is maintained, it is strengthened because that is what is going to get us to the end of this conflict fastest,” said Santos. “If we let down our guard there will be no incentive to wrap up the conflict in any foreseeable future.” The remarks came ahead of new peace talks scheduled to begin on July 28 in Havana, Cuba. On July 15, chief negotiator for rebel group Ivan Marquez said that the insurgency, now almost half a century old, is approaching an end. According to the Colombian government, the two sides have already agreed on one point of the agenda that is land reforms, and the negotiations are now focusing on FARC’s participation in politics. The other items include an end to alleged drug trafficking, turning over arms, and compensating the victims of the insurgency. The negotiations were launched in November 2012 and are the fourth attempt since the 1980s to end the conflict between the Colombian government and FARC rebels. FARC is the oldest insurgent group in Latin America and has been fighting the government since 1964. Bogota estimates that 600,000 people have been killed, and some three million others have been internally displaced by the fighting. In addition, 15,000 people have been reported missing. The rebel organization is thought to have around 8,000 fighters operating across a large swathe of the eastern jungles of the Andean nation. CAH/ASH/HSN
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