BOGOTA, May 19 (UPI) -- The Colombian government and the Revolutionary Armed Forces of Colombia (FARC) moved closer to a peace deal when they reached an agreement to combat Colombia's illegal drug trade.
Under the new agreement, both parties will sever all ties to drug trafficking should a final peace deal be reached. The anti-drug measure was the third issue to be addressed in a six point peace plan.
Colombia's chief negotiator and former Vice President Humberto de la Calle called the agreement a "fundamental step" that will "eliminate the petrol that has fueled the conflict in Colombia for decades."
Some experts, however, question whether the FARC is willing to surrender its stake in the Colombia drug trade.
At a conference on "Drug Trafficking and the Peace Process in Colombia," Latin American affairs scholar Bruce Bagley said ahead of the announced deal that he considers the FARC's involvement in the drug trade "a question of life and death" that will be "very tough" to renounce because of the rebel group's reliance on the drug trade "as an important source of financing."
The conflict between the government and the FARC began in the 1960s and is considered Latin America's longest running conflict. An estimated 220,000 people have been killed and three million internally displaced by the fighting.