Talks between Colombia’s government and the leftist FARC rebels — aimed at ending one of Latin America’s oldest conflicts — are set to begin on October 15, the group said.
The statement sent to reporters in Havana, Cuba, where the parties met to negotiate the terms of the peace talks also said “the national government and the FARC … will make a public announcement on October 17 in the city of Oslo, Norway.”
An earlier announcement from the Revolutionary Armed Forces of Colombia had said the negotiations were to begin in Oslo on October 8, before continuing in Havana.
The emailed statement was accompanied by an open letter from the FARC to one of its commanders, Simon Trinidad, serving a 60-year sentence in the US for kidnapping three Americans, whom the FARC listed as one of the negotiators for the Oslo talks.
The letter said they included Trinidad as a FARC team member for the dialogue as a point of “pride of the fighters for people’s rights.”
“The forms of realizing your contribution to this project will be discussed during talks,” the letter noted, adding that achieving peace would require “resolving the causes of the war.”
The letter, signed Monday by the Central Staff of FARC in the mountains of Colombia, alleged that Trinidad was unfairly imprisoned for his FARC activities, which they characterized as “defending the rights of the dispossessed.”
This month’s peace talks are the first attempt in a decade to achieve a negotiated to end the conflict that began when the guerrilla group was founded in 1964. Three earlier attempts failed.
The last round of peace talks, held in 2002, collapsed when the Colombian government concluded that the guerrillas were regrouping in a Switzerland-sized demilitarized zone it created to help reach a peace deal.
[Image via Agence France-Presse]