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article imageFARC says cease-fire rejection will not derail talks

By Layne Weiss     Sep 7, 2012 in World
A spokesman for Colombian rebel group FARC says that President Juan Manuel Santos' rejection of a cease-fire will not wreck next month's peace talks.
FARC rebels have proposed a cease-fire once peace talks begin in October. The negotiations will be the first direct talks between the Colombian government and FARC in a decade, BBC News reports.
"There is plenty of mistrust and bad blood to overcome, but the cease-fire issue is not insurmountable," Marco Leon Calarca of FARC told The Associated Press.
"These obstacles are nothing compared to with all that has accumulated from 50 years of violence, which we are trying to solve through dialogue," Calarca said. "In that sense, looking at things optimistically, there is no problem we can't solve."
Besides a cease-fire, FARC is also seeking to have two of its members jailed in the US, Simon Trinidad and his partner Sonia, on its negotiating team, BBC News reports.
Simon Trinidad, real name Ricardo Palermo, is in the US serving a 60 year prison sentence for kidnapping conspiracy connected with the abduction of three US intelligence operatives in 2003.
Mr. Calarca believes both sides can work out a solution to ensure that Simon can be at the negotiation table.
Calarca also told The AP , that cease-fire or not, talks will still happen. FARC just believes it doesn't make sense to sit down and talk if a guarantee to end the fighting isn't in place. "If we're going to talk, let's not do more damage. If we're inclined to peace, let's not do more damage."
"We will not give anything until we get the final agreement," President Santos said in response to the guerilla group's promise to disarm and seek a truce when talks begin in Oslo Norway, BBC News reports.
After Norway, talks are expected to be moved to Cuba.
"I have asked that military operations be intensified. There will be no ceasefire of any kind," President Santos said at a military base close to Colombia's capital city, Bogota, Reuters reports.
US State Department spokesman Wiliam Ostick did not respond specifically to the request for Ricardo "Simon Trinidad" Palermo to participate in the negotiations, but he did say that the US stands behind President Santos, and supports his efforts, The Guardian reports. "We hope FARC will take this opportunity to end its decades of terrorism and narcotics trafficking. The United States is not a party to these negotiations. We will not comment on the negotiating positions of the parties," Ostick said.
According to The AP, before Santos announced he was rejecting the cease-fire proposal, he said Thursday that after years of fighting and blood shed, a lasting peace could be achieved if both sides are truly willing to do whatever it takes to make it happen.
"Making peace requires more sacrifice, more risk, but at the end, the rewards are much higher," Santos said.
Senior FARC commander Mauricio Jaramillo announced that talks would begin October 8, Reuters reports.
President Santos, however, said there was no official start date. He also said talks could continue for as long as nine months.
Former US President Jimmy Carter, who supports the negotiations between the Colombian government and FARC, told President Santos Thursday, "let me know if you need any help," according to Colombia Reports.
"I am very proud of what you are doing," Carter told Santos in a conversation on W radio.
As of right now, there are no official plans for Jimmy Carter to be involved.
According to Reuters, President Santos announced his negotiating team Wednesday. The team includes a former police chief, a former military head, an industrialist, President Santos' chief security advisor, and a former environment minister.
More about Farc, President juan manuel santos, Ceasefire, Peace talks
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