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Colombian gov't, FARC resume peace talks in Cuba


08-13-2014 07:20 BJT

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HAVANA, Aug. 12 (Xinhua) -- Colombia's government and the Revolutionary Armed Forces of Colombia (FARC) rebel group Tuesday resumed peace talks in Havana, Cuba.

The latest round of talks is set to tackle the polemic issue of reparations for victims of the five-decade long conflict between state security forces and the armed leftist rebels.

"We are opening the debate on the important issue of the victims," head of FARC negotiator Ivan Marquez told reporters at the Havana Convention Center where the conversations are being held.

The government delegation is headed by former vice president Humberto de la Calle.

The two sides in the negotiations are looking for ways to guarantee the rights of victims on both sides of the conflict, "to find the keys to opening the door to reconciliation of the Colombian family," said Marquez.

A 12-member delegation representing the victims is expected to arrive in Havana on Saturday "to be heard without suffering any kind of discrimination."

A total of 60 people representing victims of the conflict, which has left 220,000 dead, are scheduled to speak at the talks.

Referring to the victims, but "addressing all Colombians," Marquez said "it is necessary to let go of the feelings of hate and vengeance, if we want to have peace in our homeland."

The FARC negotiator also rejected a "Legal Framework for Peace" that was proposed and approved by the government of Colombian President Juan Manuel Santos without consulting the rebels.

"That legislative act, approved by the Colombian Congress in 2012, does not exist, because it has not been agreed to by both sides," said Marquez.

The law, according to the government, aims to ensure the peace process complies with existing legislation, but the rebels say it allows officials to make unilateral decisions without the FARC's approval.

Marquez called on officials to "respect the spirit and the letter of the General Agreement for Ending the Conflict, signed August 2012 in Havana, establishing that the two sides cannot claim the right to decide issues not discussed at the negotiating table."

So far in the nearly two-year talks aimed at ending Latin America's longest-running guerrilla war, the FARC and the government have reached agreements on various key issues, including the rebels' ties to drug trafficking, rural development and land redistribution, and the FARC's transition into a political party or movement.

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