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October 18, 2012

Colombia: No Cease-fire Without FARC Peace Deal

by VOA News

The Colombian government has ruled out any cease-fire with the Revolutionary Armed Forces of Colombia (FARC) rebels until there is a final agreement on a peace plan.

Colombia's chief negotiator, Humberto de la Calle, told reporters Thursday that his government would continue military operations until there is a final end to the conflict, which has spanned almost five decades.

He commented at the start of new peace talks with the rebel group in Norway. The two sides began the sessions Wednesday in a bid to end what has become Latin America's oldest insurgency.  

News reports say negotiators in Norway are focusing on issues that include land reform, the illegal drug trade and the potential political rights of the rebel group once a peace agreement is signed.

The talks in Norway are the first between the two sides since the last round of negotiations collapsed in 2002.  The talks are being mediated by Norway and Cuba.

Colombia and FARC rebels have engaged in a bloody civil war that has claimed hundreds of thousands of lives.

Since 1964, the militant group has engaged in political kidnappings and carried out attacks on security forces in its battle against the government.