Negotiators representing both the Colombia government and the FARC rebels kicked off new peace talks in Norway on Thursday. These are the first peace talks to be conducted in over a decade. The Colombia government and its military have been in an armed conflict with the FARC for close to five decades. The peace process is expected to last a number of months and have a number of phases.
The FARC delegation head, Ivan Marquez said his team brought with them an olive branch to extend to the government but insisted that was not the equivalent of arms being quiet.
Both sides made a joint declaration that said each had agreed to the start of the peace talks in Norway during October and then having them move to the capital of Cuba during November.
The armed conflict started with the founding of the FARC in 1964. The group was founded by Manuel Marulanda, who died in 2008, and whose aim was to have a Marxist regime. Seventeen years later the first peace talks started and a ceasefire was agreed to that lasted until 1987.
Over the years, the FARC have become involved in the drug trade and kidnapping for ransom to finance their operation. In 2002, Ingrid Betancourt a presidential candidate in Colombia was kidnapped by the FARC and was held until 2008 when a military raid freed her and 14 other prisoners.
The chief negotiator for the government said on Thursday that the new talks were a historic moment for Colombia. The first round of talks will take place through November, with the second phase in February and a signed agreement would follow that, but has to go before the public for a vote.