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Colombia, FARC reach key agreement in negotiations

Nov. 7, 2013 at 4:39 PM

BOGOTA, Nov. 7 (UPI) -- The Colombian government and the rebel group known as the FARC announced an agreement that would allow ex-rebels to participate in the political system.

Negotiators for the government and the Revolutionary Armed Forces of Colombia-People's Army have been in discussions for a year in Havana, The Christian Science Monitor reported. The partial draft agreement announced Wednesday is the second in the talks.

Christian Voelkel of the International Crisis Group told the Monitor that Wednesday's agreement is the first where the FARC has agreed to give up its armed struggle and the government has recognized its members should be able to fight for their goals within the system.

"This agreement forms the backbone of constructing a sustainable peace," Voelkel said. "The process is really about tuning opponents to the political system into stakeholders in it."

Voelkel predicted the current talks will be more successful than previous efforts to reach a political settlement. The most recent one ended in 2002 after four years of negotiations.

"The costs of exiting for both parties at this point are prohibitive," he said.

The FARC, the acronym for the group's Spanish name, has been fighting a guerrilla war in Colombia since 1964, saying it is working on behalf of rural peasants. The group uses kidnapping and drug trafficking to finance its operations.

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