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Colombia's president says truce with FARC rebels likely

The country's president has said he will push for a truce with the rebel group starting on January 1. The news comes after months of fighting despite a FARC-declared ceasefire over the summer.

Colombian President Juan Manuel Santos said on Wednesday a ceasefire with Marxist FARC rebels would likely be implemented by New Year's Day, a move that would bring an end to a more than 50-year-long war that has left some 220,000 people dead.

The government and leaders of the Revolutionary Armed Forces of Colombia (FARC) have been negotiating the five-point peace plan for the past three years. So far, three points have been agreed upon.

Santos said he is confident all five points can be settled by the end of the year.

"Let's make an effort so that by December 31 we can finish the agenda point on the end of the conflict and be able to declare a bilateral, internationally monitored ceasefire from January 1," he told reporters at a press conference.

A long-awaited end?

FARC leaders offered a unilateral ceasefire in July, but Bogota refused to acknowledge it. Instead, government forces suspended air raids while continuing to send out ground forces against the rebels.

The two sides recently set a deadline of March 23, 2016 to reach a final truce.

FARC was founded in 1964 following a peasant uprising, and has been fighting the government ever since. The ensuing war has led not only to thousands of deaths, but also to massive displacement.

blc/jil (AFP, Reuters)

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