Tuesday, August 28, 2012

State sponsor of peace talks

Colombian President Juan Manuel Santos said last night that “exploratory conversations” have been held with FARC guerrillas about peace negotiations, and he held the door open to participation by ELN guerrillas too.  The negotiations would aim to end the hemisphere’s longest-running guerrilla war.  See stories from Reuters and El Tiempo (Bogota).

The news broke yesterday when the Venezuelan network Telesur reported that an agreement had been signed in Havana to get peace talks started, following discussions in Havana between the Colombian government and the FARC with participation by Cuban, Venezuelan, and Norwegian diplomats. 

Santos said he would soon provide more detailed information.  He said that peace talks would be guided by three principles: learning from past errors, gearing talks to end the conflict and not to prolong it, and maintaining military presence and operations in “every centimeter” of Colombian territory.

Havana has long hosted contacts between the Colombian government and guerrillas, and Cuban diplomacy now appears set to assist in actual negotiations.

The presence of Colombian guerrillas in Havana has long been cited in the U.S. reports that name Cuba as a “state sponsor of terrorism.”  The report issued last July says this: “Press reporting indicated that the Cuban government provided medical care and political assistance to the FARC.  There was no indication that the Cuban government provided weapons or paramilitary training for either ETA or the FARC.”

The Reuters report cited above cites Colombian officials saying that President Obama is informed about these possible negotiations and supports them.

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