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Colombia

Colombia, FARC resume peace talks

The government of Colombia and FARC rebels have met for the first time to discuss amending a peace deal that was defeated in a referendum. Both sides remain optimistic a revised deal can be reached.

The Colombian government and FARC rebels met in Cuba on Saturday to begin fresh talks to rewrite a peace deal that was narrowly defeated in a referendum earlier this month.

FARC chief Timoleon Jimenez, also known as Timochenko, said on Twitter that the first meeting with the government since the October 2 referendum was "optimistic" and that the two sides "found points of agreement." The government delegation said the talks marked a beginning of "constructive dialogue."

The government delegation arrived in Havana after receiving over the past two weeks proposals from supporters of the "No" vote, which included senator and former hard-line president Alvaro Uribe, parts of the church, as well as victims and sectors of society who supported the deal but wanted revisions.  

Those opposed to the deal, which came after more than four years of tough talks in Cuba, are against its transitional justice provisions that allow for an amnesty for most FARC guerillas or require them to perform community service in war-torn places. They want those responsible for atrocities to be locked up and barred from politics.

An amendment to the deal that does not include FARC transitioning to a political movement would be difficult for the leftist movement to stomach. Under the deal, FARC would have been given 10 congressional seats in government, which opponents say is unacceptable.

The rebels, Colombia's armed forces and right-wing paramilitaries have all been implicated in crimes committed during the nearly five-decade war, which has claimed at least 220,000 lives and displaced some 8 million people.

President Juan Manuel Santos, who won the Nobel Peace Prize earlier this month for his efforts, has extended a ceasefire until the end of the year and vowed to reach a new peace deal as soon as possible.

cw/cmk (AFP, El Colombiano)

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