TODAY COLOMBIA – Colombia’s government and FARC guerrillas agreed last Thursday to move up a definitive bilateral ceasefire to mid-December.

The move was proposed Wednesday by FARC peace negotiator Rodrigo Granda, after President Juan Manuel Santos called on the two sides to make an effort to begin 2016 with a truce, Colombia’s Caracol News network said.

The two sides have been aiming to reach a definitive peace deal by March 2016, preceded by a two-way ceasefire by Jan. 1.

“He (Granda) said why not the 16th (of December). Done! Dec. 16th it is. The sooner the better, because that way we save more lives,” Santos told a radio station, according to Caracol News on Thursday.

Granda had responded to Santos’ call via Twitter, saying “Christmas without fear. When you want to give something, you give it at the right moment. On Dec. 16th the Christmas bonuses begin. Why wait till Jan. 1?”

In November 2012 the government and the Revolutionary Armed Forces of Colombia insurgency launched negotiations to end five decades of fighting.

The fighting has claimed more than 200,000 lives and displaced millions of people.