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Colombian President Rejects FARC Call For Ceasefire
285 days ago
(RTTNews) - Colombian President Juan Manuel Santos on Thursday rejected calls by the Leftist FARC rebels for a ceasefire during peace talks between the rebel group and the Colombian government set to resume in Norway next month.
"We will not give anything until we get the final agreement. There's not going to be any ceasefire," Santos said while addressing personnel at a base in central Colombia, adding that his government would not "lower its guard in terms of security."
"We won't cede anything at all until we reach the final agreement. That should be very clear. I have asked that military operations be intensified, that there will be no ceasefire of any kind," Santos said.
His remarks came shortly after Mauricio Jaramillo, a high-ranking FARC commander, said the rebel group was committed to forthcoming peace talks, and indicated its intention to seek a ceasefire when the peace negotiations open in the Norwegian capital Oslo in October.
"We're going to propose a ceasefire immediately when we sit at the table. We have always wanted peace," Jaramillo said, adding that the talks would begin in Norway on October 8.
The developments came days after Santos announced earlier this week that the currently stalled peace talks between his government and the FARC rebels would resume after a gap of ten years in Norway next month before moving to Cuba. He said resumption of talks was a direct result of six months of secret negotiations between representatives of his government and the FARC rebels held in the Cuban capital Havana.
Santos made it clear then that there would be no easing of 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 re-organizing themselves.
Santos' decision to resume peace talks with FARC signals a notable shift in policy from that of previous Colombian governments, which had steadfastly refused to engage in negotiations with the Leftist rebels. Incidentally, Santos had earlier expressed willingness to engage in peace negotiations with the rebels if they renounced violence, surrendered arms and released hostages.
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 FARC rebels have been accused in the past of using money generated from smuggling cocaine to fund their insurgency. They still carry out attacks on Colombian security forces and other targets despite tough security measures enforced by former President Alvaro Uribe, who completed his term in office last August.
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. But there has been an escalation in FARC attacks in recent months despite a series of successes for the Colombian government in its campaign against the outlaws in recent years.
In an effort to show its commitment to future peace talks with the government, FARC recently released the last remaining ten security personnel it had been holding hostage for years, and pledged to abandon kidnappings for money. But the rebel group is still said to be holding hundreds of civilian hostages.
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