Update March 21, 2016

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Kerry to meet Colombia government, FARC negotiators

Sumel Sarker

kerry

Kerry to meet Colombia government, FARC negotiators

21 March 2016, Nirapad News: US Secretary of State John Kerry will meet in Havana Monday with Colombian government and FARC rebel negotiators trying to strike a peace deal that would end a half-century of strife, a source close to the talks said. A delegation from Botoga will meet for an hour with the top US diplomat at 3 pm (1900 GMT), said a statement from the office of the High Commissioner for Peace, Sergio Jaramillo.

An hour later, and separately, FARC negotiators will huddle with Kerry, also for an hour, the statement said.

Kerry — who arrived Sunday in Cuba’s capital with US President Barack Obama on his landmark visit to the Communist-run island — has said he was keen to check in on progress in the peace process.

Negotiators at the talks — held in the Cuban capital since November 2012 — have announced several key advances in recent months, but a final deal remains elusive.

The goal is to turn the Revolutionary Armed Forces of Colombia (FARC) from a rebel group into a political party and end a grinding, complex conflict that has killed more than 260,000 people and uprooted 6.6 million.

On the ground in Colombia, hostilities have almost entirely halted under the FARC’s unilateral ceasefire — although a smaller rebel group, the National Liberation Army (ELN), has not joined the peace process and continues periodic attacks.

The FARC said earlier this month that peace talks were stalled over the issue of a bilateral ceasefire. Both sides have acknowledged that a March 23 deadline they had set themselves would pass without the signing of a final accord.

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