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OSLO/BOGOTA: Historic closed-door talks between Colombia and Marxist rebels began yesterday in Norway after FARC rebel and government negotiators arrived secretly in Oslo in a bid to end almost half a century of armed conflict, Norwegian officials said.
Colombia’s President Juan Manuel Santos is betting a decade of US-backed blows against the Revolutionary Armed Forces of Colombia (FARC) has left the group sufficiently weakened to seriously seek an end to the war after so many failed attempts.
Both parties, whisked through a VIP section of Oslo airport, were taken to an undisclosed location around midday with the media completely shut out for planned meetings yesterday and today. This is the latest attempt to negotiate peace with the drug-funded rebels since they formed back in 1964. Past discussions ended in shambles, even strengthening the guerrillas’ ability to attack civilian and military targets.
Santos, a former defence minister, announced in September that the two sides had negotiated the terms of a draft agenda in Cuba, with the opening of the talks to take place in Oslo. The five-point talks will likely be thorny as they focus on the drug trade, victim rights, land ownership in rural areas, FARC participation in politics and how to end the war.