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Colombian president confirms FARC talks

In an address on television, Colombian President Juan Manuel Santos announced that his government is engaging in talks with the Revolutionary Armed Forces of Colombia (FARC) aimed at a long-lasting ceasefire.

Colombia's President Juan Manuel Santos speaks during the presentation of diverse government achievements in Cali, Colombia, August 2, 2012. The President of Colombia, Juan Manuel Santos makes two years in office on August 7, 2012, half of the period for which he was elected, with a sharp slump in popularity and several problems, August 6, 2012. Photo: Javier Casella /SIG / Handout/ dpa/ au ++ FOR EDITORIAL USE ONLY/NO SALES ++ pixel

Juan Manuel Santos

Santos revealed in Monday's address that initial conversations had taken place with FARC, confirming rumors that have been swirling about for weeks.

"Since the first day of my government I have completed my constitutional obligation to find peace. With that aim, we have had exploratory conversations with the FARC to seek an end to the conflict," he said.

He also mentioned that the National Liberation Army (ELN) had also expressed interest in participating in peace talks, referring to an interview published Monday with the Reuters news agency where the ELN made statements to that effect.

"I tell that group that, within the same framework, they too can be part of the effort to end the conflict," Santos said.

The conflict between armed rebels in Colombia and the military has been going on for decades, and tens of thousands have been killed.

Santos, who is halfway through his four-year term, did not say where the initial rounds of talks had taken place nor what the outcome had been, but added this information would be given in the next few days.

Reports from Colombian media - backed by comments from former vice president Francicso Santos - said Norway would host talks between FARC and the government in Oslo on October 5, with further meetings scheduled for Havana, Cuba.

mz/jm (AFP, Reuters)