The ongoing peace negotiations in Cuba between the Colombian government and the leftist FARC rebel group have been adjoined until December 5, representatives from the two sides announced Thursday.
The Colombian government delegation to the talks in Cuba is being led by chief negotiator Humberto de la Calle and the FARC delegation by Ivan Marquez. The talks are aimed at finding ways to end Latin America's longest insurgency.
Calle said a news conference held Thursday that the ultimate aim of the ongoing peace talks was to convince the FARC rebels to give up their armed struggle and join legal politics. He urged Colombian citizens to come up with "useful and relevant proposals" for peace.
"More than speeches, we want concrete results," Calle said, stressing that "a stable and enduring peace" must emerge from the ongoing peace negotiations . Incidentally, he had said earlier that the peace initiative would be "a rapid and effective process" that would take only months to conclude.
Nevertheless, FARC delegation head Ivan Marquez stressed at a separate news conference held Thursday that a final peace agreement should not be rushed, saying that both sides "will have to take as long as necessary to reach peace".
"We have to work without hurrying... we can't make mistakes. We can't set timetables - not seven or 10 months," Marquez said, adding that any peace deal resulting for the negotiations should be based on "a solid, stable base."
The peace process was officially launched at a ceremony in the Norwegian capital Oslo on October 18, following days of intense negotiations between the two sides. They were the first direct talks between the two parties in more than ten years. In addition to Norway and Cuba, Chile and Venezuela also played major roles in bringing the two sides to the negotiating table.
The talks in Cuba are mainly focused on rural development, job opportunities for peasants, land distribution, the rebels' future role in politics, a definitive end to hostilities, fighting the illegal drug trade and the future of the conflict's victims.
Current Colombian President Juan Manuel Santos' decision to reopen peace negotiations with FARC rebels marked a notable shift in policy from that of the previous Colombian governments, which had steadfastly refused to engage in negotiations with the rebels.
Santos, however, has refused to ease anti-rebel military operations during the talks, signaling an apparent attempt not to repeat the mistakes committed during last round of negotiations which ended in failure ten years ago. Notably, the ceasefire during the previous talks had helped the rebels in reorganizing themselves.
FARC has been fighting the Colombian government for almost five decades. The rebels seek to impose a leftist regime in the country, which they believe would redistribute land more equitably among its impoverished population. The rebels have been accused in the past of using money generated from smuggling cocaine to fund their insurgency.
The leftists have carried out numerous attacks on Colombian security forces and other targets in the country despite tough security measures enforced by former President Alvaro Uribe, who completed his term in office in August 2011.
The strong anti-militant policies and related military operations initiated by Uribe since he first took office in 2002 had put the rebel group on the defensive. Despite a series of successes for the Colombian government in its campaign in recent years, there had been a notable escalation in FARC attacks ahead of the Oslo talks.
by RTT Staff Writer
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