Latin America & Caribbean

Colombia peace talks with Farc rebels 'to resume' in Cuba

Farc delegate Rodrigo Granda (left) shakes hands with Jorge Enrique Mora (right), a member of the Colombian government's delegation, at Convention Palace in Havana on 3 December 2014. Image copyright AFP
Image caption Farc delegate Rodrigo Granda (left) shook hands with government envoy Jorge Enrique Mora at the announcement in Havana

The Colombian government and Farc rebels have agreed to resume peace talks, which were suspended last month over the abduction of an army general, mediators say.

Officials from Cuba and Norway, the two countries brokering the peace process, said a week of discussions would begin in Havana on 10 December.

Colombia's president stopped the talks after the rebels seized Gen Ruben Dario Alzate and two others on 16 November.

The captives were released on Sunday.

They were handed over to a humanitarian mission led by the International Red Cross and taken to a military base near the city of Medellin before travelling to be reunited with their families.

De-escalation

"We consider the crisis over and announce that we have agreed that the next cycle of conversations will take place between 10 and 17 December," Reuters quoted a joint statement read by a Cuban official as saying.

The negotiators said the next round of talks would focus on a de-escalation of the conflict, and on meeting the relatives of victims.

Image copyright AFP
Image caption General Alzate (right) was pictured with Farc commander Pastor Alape after his release on Sunday
Image copyright EPA
Image caption Gen Alzate (R), Cpl Jorge Rodriguez (C) and lawyer Gloria Urrego were released in good health
Image copyright AFP
Image caption Soldiers had spent two weeks searching for the hostages along the remote Atrato river in Choco province

They also said the parties had agreed to establish a permanent system to deal with any future crises.

They will reconvene around mid-January, on a date not yet determined.

The negotiations have been under way in Havana since November 2012 and aim to bring an end to five decades of conflict, in which 220,000 people are estimated to have died.

Call for ceasefire

The Red Cross and the Farc said that the handover on Sunday had taken place in a remote location in Choco province, an isolated jungle region on Colombia's Pacific Coast.

Gen Alzate, Cpl Jorge Rodriguez and lawyer Gloria Urrego had been kidnapped 14 days earlier while travelling along the Atrato river by boat. They had ventured into territory dominated by the Farc in civilian clothes and without a security detail.

The Farc said they kidnapped the general because they were unhappy that President Juan Manuel Santos had continued military operations against them during peace talks.

The left-wing rebel group has renewed calls for both sides to call a ceasefire while the peace negotiations proceed.

The government has rejected such calls, saying that a truce would only help the rebel group regroup and rearm.

Gen Alzate resigned from his post on Monday, saying he should have taken more security precautions.

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