Colombian rebels propose truce for peace talks
Havana: Colombia's main leftist rebel group proposed a ceasefire while it holds peace talks with the government beginning in Norway next month. It also named three negotiators, including a high-ranking guerrilla now imprisoned in the United States.
The rebels on Thursday said first on their agenda will be a possible truce in the half-century of fighting that has claimed tens of thousands of lives.
"We will propose a ceasefire the moment we sit down at the table," said Mauricio Jaramillo, a spokesman and top leader of the Revolutionary Armed Forces of Colombia, or FARC. "We are going to discuss it."
The FARC said the talks will begin on October 08 in Oslo.
Jaramillo told reporters in Havana that two of the negotiators will be Ivan Marquez, a participant in past peace talks and a member of the FARC's six-person ruling secretariat, and Jose Santrich, a second-tier leader.
The rebels also said they want one of their negotiators to be Ricardo Palmera, alias "Simon Trinidad”, a high-ranking FARC member and former peace negotiator who was extradited to the United States in 2005 and subsequently sentenced to 60 years on hostage-taking conspiracy charges.
Asked whether the FARC is seeking Palmera's release or the rebels envision him participating by videoconference, Andres Paris, another spokesman, responded that Colombian President Juan Manuel Santos would be learning of their request from yesterday's announcement and they would await a response from his government.
"You (the media) will be the bearers of this news, that the FARC has decided as a symbol of the nation and of dignity to have Simon at the negotiating table," Paris said.
More negotiators will be announced later, Jaramillo said. The Colombian government named its five delegates to the peace talks on Wednesday.