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Colombia, FARC rebels agree to revisit peace deal

The Colombian government and FARC rebels said Friday they have agreed to discuss "adjustments" to a contested peace deal and continue a bilateral ceasefire.



Bogota: The Colombian government and FARC rebels said Friday they have agreed to discuss "adjustments" to a contested peace deal and continue a bilateral ceasefire.

In a further boost to peace just hours after President Juan Manuel Santos won the Nobel Peace Prize, the two sides vowed in a joint statement to "continue listening" to opponents of the deal, which voters narrowly rejected in a referendum Sunday.

"It is important... to promptly define a way forward," they said in a statement read out in Havana. Both sides promised to resume the talks they had opened there in November 2012 -- and which they thought they had concluded.

"Colombia doesn`t want to return to war," said the government`s chief peace negotiator, Humberto de la Calle.

"Any adjustment or change made to the final accord must be the product of a constructive dialogue between the (government and rebel) delegations," he added.

The two sides said they had agreed to extend the bilateral ceasefire that began on August 29, without setting an expiration date.

Santos thus took a step back from his earlier comment that the army would halt its ceasefire at the end of this month if no solution to the impasse was found by then.

Santos, who has staked his legacy on making peace, has warned that Colombia is in a "very dangerous limbo" since voters rejected the deal signed on September 26.

The opposition wants a tougher deal, accusing Santos of granting the rebels impunity for their crimes.

Leaders of FARC, the Revolutionary Armed Forces of Colombia, have insisted they are committed to making peace, but it is unclear whether they will be able to sell a new deal to their rank and file.

In the meantime, they have ordered their fighters back to "secure sites," after starting to group them together for the disarmament process planned in the deal.

Friday`s statement said the government and FARC have agreed to a "protocol" to avoid any flare-ups of fighting.

It will be monitored by the United Nations and representatives from both sides, it said, asking for the blessing of Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon and the Security Council to reappoint a UN mission originally sent to Colombia to monitor the rebels` disarmament.

The two sides said they would continue "trust-building" measures such as joint efforts to find missing persons, to de-mine conflict zones, to remove child soldiers from the FARC`s ranks, and to help farmers in rebel-held areas switch from coca -- the raw ingredient for cocaine -- to legal crops.

The Colombian conflict has killed more than 260,000 people and left 45,000 missing over five decades, drawing in several leftist guerrilla groups, right-wing paramilitaries and drug gangs.

FARC, the oldest and largest rebel group, was to relaunch as a political party under the deal.

From Zee News

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