Colombia’s President Juan Manuel Santos will travel to Cuba on Wednesday to meet with government negotiators working on a peace deal with Marxist FARC rebels and may announce an agreement on transitional justice.
Santos’ visit — on a layover during a trip to New York — comes as negotiators are finalizing talks on the how the rebels and the state will pay for human rights violations and war crimes.
“I will make a stop-over in Havana for a key meeting with negotiators with the goal of accelerating the end of the conflict. Peace is close,” Santos said on Twitter.
Government sources told Reuters it was possible Santos will be present at the signing of the partial accord. The visit is the first time the president has traveled to Cuba since the negotiations began at the end of 2012.
Local media said that FARC leader “Timochenko” also traveled to Cuba and speculated both could meet or make a public appearance.
Santos said on Tuesday that a deal on justice will not please everyone, but that it will be positive in the long-term.
The president has previously said that the unwillingness of rebel leadership to complete sentences – not necessarily in a prison – has been the biggest obstacle to a peace deal.
Additionally, Santos will have to provide justice for thousands of victims of military war crimes or risk interference by the International Criminal Court in The Hague.
In order to accelerate the negotiations, the government and the FARC formed an international committee to come to a compromise the FARC and government negotiators had trouble reaching.
Negotiators have so far reached partial accords on land reform, political participation for ex-rebels and an end to the illegal drugs trade. The conflict between guerrilla groups, right-wing paramilitaries and the government has killed 260,000 people and displaced millions.