| 2010/08/11 00:00

Colombia opens door for talks with FARC rebels

August 11--The arrival of a more moderate president in Colombia has opened the possibility, if ever so slight, of talks with Marxist rebels to end a cocaine-fueled conflict that dates to the 1960s.

Colombia opens door for talks with FARC rebels

Although he oversaw decisive blows against Colombia's strongest rebel group as defense minister, President Juan Manuel Santos has expressed a willingness to negotiate with the Revolutionary Armed Forces of Colombia, or FARC, to end Latin America's only armed conflict. "The door to talks is not locked," Santos said Saturday in his inaugural speech.

Carlos Lozano, editor of the communist weekly Voz, said Santos's comments suggest that Colombia's new government is open to considering negotiations. "That is important, particularly because his predecessor had practically closed the possibility, and his policy was to expand the war," Lozano said, referring to Álvaro Uribe, who stepped down after eight years in office.

Latin American leaders, some of whom were hostile to Uribe and his security policies, have expressed interest in helping Colombia forge a peace pact with the FARC, a group of 8,000 fighters that has weakened in recent years amid a U.S.-backed military offensive but remains resilient in the hinterlands.
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