Colombian government, FARC leaders return to negotiating table in Havana

World Today

The Colombian government and the leftist FARC rebels returned to the negotiating table in Havana in a bid to end the longest running armed conflict in the Americas. Colombia’s President Jose Manuel Santos has said he wants 2015 to be “the year of peace” and has for the first time offered to consider a bilateral ceasefire. CCTV America’s Michael Voss reported this story from Havana.

Colombian government, FARC leaders return to negotiating table in Havana

The Colombian government and the leftist FARC rebels returned to the negotiating table in Havana in a bid to end the longest running armed conflict in the Americas. Colombia's President Jose Manuel Santos has said he wants 2015 to be "the year of peace" and has for the first time offered to consider a bilateral ceasefire. CCTV America's Michael Voss reported this story from Havana.

The Colombian FARC rebels began their latest unilateral ceasefire in Dec. 2014. Until now the government has always refused to participate, accusing the FARC of using a previous joint ceasefire to regroup and re-arm.

The negotiations, which resumed on Monday in Havana, have reached a point where the authorities believe that de-escalating the conflict could help secure a final peace accord.

There has been no official reaction to the offer, though a FARC spokesman did confirm that their unilateral ceasefire remains in place.

“For humanitarian reasons the [FARC] has proposed gestures to help de-escalate the conflict and to declare and order an indefinite unilateral ceasefire that can be verified,” FARC Spokesman Joaquin Gomez said.

Speaking at a conference in Colombia before flying back to Havana, the government’s chief negotiator also raised the issue of clearing the rebel minefields.

FARC has said it is not willing to negotiate a peace deal only to see its leaders go straight to jail, yet public opinion in Colombia is strongly opposed to letting past crimes go unpunished.