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Colombia

Colombia talks in Cuba lead to proposal for revision of peace accord

Colombia's government negotiators are returning from talks with FARC rebels in Cuba with a revised text for a peace deal. The previous accord was rejected in a referendum earlier this month.

Colombian President Juan Manuel Santos has said "everything is on the table" in efforts to revive a peace pact with FARC rebels, and said a revised accord could be reached "in a matter of days."

In a televised address on Friday night, Santos said government negotiators would return from talks in Havana and meet with key political opponents of the first agreement.

Juan Manuel Santos (imago/Xinhua)

Santos won the Nobel Peace Prize for his efforts to reach a peace agreement

Negotiators for the left-wing rebel group, the Revolutionary Armed Forces of Colombia (FARC), and for the Colombian government concluded a week of renewed talks on Friday. In a statement, they said new proposals have been incorporated in the text of what would be a modified accord.

"We have analyzed the proposals of changes and precisions to the final accord that different sectors of the society have suggested. The proposals are being discussed carefully and many are being incorporated into the texts of a new accord," the joint statement said, without describing the proposed changes.

Chief FARC negotiator Timoleon Jimenez wrote on Twitter that he hoped the delay did not become a boomerang:

The FARC and government delegations said they would renew talks next Thursday "with the aim of reaching quickly and efficiently a new definitive agreement."

"It's a question of goodwill and making decisions," said Santos. "This can be accomplished in a matter of days."

Santos said a ceasefire he extended until the end of the year was "fragile and for that reason time is dear. The people have the right to demand a new accord now."

New deal, new vote

Colombian voters rejected the last agreement between the guerrillas and the government in a referendum on October 2. Led by Alvaro Uribe, the hard-line former president supported by Colombia's land-owning elite, the No camp won by a narrow percentage in the referendum where 37 percent of voters turned out.

Uribe has called for harsher penalties for rebels who committed war crimes and restrictions on a political role for the FARC's 7,000-strong army.

The government on Thursday postponed the official start of talks with the other, smaller rebel group, the ELN. Santos complained that the ELN had not yet released a hostage, former congressman Odin Sanchez. The group is believed to have 1,500 members.

jm/cmk (Reuters, AP, AFP)

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