COLOMBIA NEWS – Representatives from Colombia’s government and the Revolutionary Armed Forces of Colombia (FARC) sat down together on July 15 for the first time in more than a month, tying up loose ends as they embark on a new round of peace talks.
The meeting is the first between the two sides since the re-election last month of President Juan Manuel Santos, which gave a big push to the negotiations.
Officials told that a few unresolved matters must be attended to before the two sides can take up the thorny issue of compensating victims of the half-century-long conflict.
“It is not exactly a new round of talks, rather a meeting of the parties to deal with some issues,” said Andrés París, a member of the delegation representing the FARC at the negotiations in the Cuban capital.
Participants said one of the key issues under discussion dealt with establishing ground rules for allowing victims of the violence to sit in on the talks.
“We want to discuss the time, the procedure, and the date that this can begin taking place,” said lead government negotiator, Humberto De la Calle.
Agreement between the two sides has been reached already on three agenda points: rural development; the rebels’ reintegration into the political process; and illegal drugs.
In addition to the question of victims’ compensation, there are two more issues to be taken up: the laying down of weapons by the FARC, and determining whether an eventual comprehensive peace agreement should be put to a national referendum.
Talks on ending Latin America’s longest-running armed conflict, which has raged since the FARC’s founding in 1964, have been under way in Havana since November 2012.
Sources: El Espectador; El Tiempo