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Colombia, FARC working toward New Years Day bilateral truce

By Andrew V. Pestano
Colombia, FARC working toward New Years Day bilateral truce
Colombian President Juan Manuel Santos has urged the FARC rebel group to make peace agreement efforts so a mutual truce can begin at the start of 2016. Peace negotiations between both sides have been held in Havana, Cuba, since 2012 -- facilitated by Cuban President Raul Castro. Photo courtesy of FARC- EP/Diálogos Paz

BOGOTA, Oct. 29 (UPI) -- Colombian President Juan Manuel Santos has urged the FARC rebel group to make peace agreement efforts so a mutual truce can begin at the start of 2016.

At a public event on Wednesday, Santos called on his government negotiators and the FARC group to "make the effort so between now and Dec. 31 we can wrap up the fifth point [on the peace agenda], which is how to end the conflict, so that we can declare an internationally monitored bilateral ceasefire from Jan. 1."

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Santos had previously refused to enter a bilateral ceasefire with the FARC, arguing the group used the time during negotiations to strengthen.

"Negotiators are instructed to expedite the end point of the conflict to assess the possibility of a verifiable bilateral ceasefire decree on /01/01/16," Santos wrote on Twitter.

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Peace negotiations between both sides have been held in Havana, Cuba, since 2012 -- facilitated by Cuban President Raul Castro.

In September, Colombia and the Revolutionary Armed Forces of Colombia, also known as FARC, agreed to a peace deal deadline -- setting up the possibility of ending the longest-running armed conflict in the South American continent.

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Both sides reached an agreement on the most difficult issue in negotiations: how to punish human rights abuses committed during the five-decade-long conflict.

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More than 220,000 people have died and 5 million have been internally displaced due to the Colombian conflict since the FARC's founding in 1964. The militant rebel group has been involved in drug-trafficking, kidnapping and other illicit activity to fund its insurgency campaign.

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