The Colombian government has signed a formal agreement with the FARC to start a peace process to end the armed conflict which has devastated the country since 1964, reported Venezuelan news network Telesur on Monday.
According to Telesur, “high level sources within the government of Juan Manuel Santos and the FARC have just signed an agreement to begin a formal peace dialogue.”
The Venezuelan news network confirmed a report by Colombian television station RCN that the formal peace talks are planned in the Norwegian capital of Oslo in October. The Norwegian Ministry of Foreign Affairs would not confirm this for Colombia Reports.
Telesur reported that the Colombian president is soon to make the official announcement of the deal and the upcoming talks.
Newspaper El Espectador on Sunday reported that senior security adviser Sergio Jaramillo has been leading the government commission in Cuba that has been trying to prepare formal peace talks between the government and the guerrilla group that has been at war with the state since its foundation in 1964.
Jaramillo is reportedly being assisted by Environment Minister Frank Pearl who, according to U.S. diplomatic cables began seeking contact with the FARC when serving as peace commissioner under former President Alvaro Uribe.
Colombia’s ambassador to Cuba, Gustavo Bell, reportedly is also involved in the talks. According to RCN, Santos’ brother Enrique has also been attending the meetings.
The Venezuelan government, while not directly involved in the preliminary, has been called on as mediator when talks turned sour, reported the newspaper.
According to both El Espectador and Telesur, the FARC’s spokesperson in Cuba is Mauricio Jaramillo, alias “El Medico,” one of the members of the guerrillas’ political leadership who “according to rumors” was accompanied by guerrilla commander “Ivan Marquez” on at least one occasion.
RCN reported that the government’s agenda has six basic themes which include FARC demobilization, ceasefire and the decommissioning of arms, all issues which have limited past efforts at negotiations.
The guerrilla group’s conditions consist of agricultural reform, renegotiation of multinational involvement in oil and mining industries, environmental issues and the involvement of social organizations in the eventual peace talks, reported radio station W last week.
While rumors of preliminary peace talks first surged in January, the still-unconfirmed negotiations were set high on the Colombian public and political agenda by Uribe a week ago.
Uribe’s rejection of peace talks caused the opposite reaction from Colombian congress, whose majority of political parties voiced its support for a negotiated end to the 48-year old armed conflict, leaving the former president and his allies isolated.
According to a report by newspaper El Tiempo, the Uribe government was seeking talks with the FARC between 2005 and April 2010.