Colombian president says New Year’s ceasefire possible

Juan Manuel Santos confident of deal with Farc if final point in three-year talks completed

Colombia’s president Juan Manuel Santos. The government and leaders of the Revolutionary Armed Forces of Colombia (Farc) have waded through a five-point agenda during negotiations to end 51 years of war. Photograph: John Vizcaino/Reuters

Colombia’s president Juan Manuel Santos. The government and leaders of the Revolutionary Armed Forces of Colombia (Farc) have waded through a five-point agenda during negotiations to end 51 years of war. Photograph: John Vizcaino/Reuters

 

Colombia’s president Juan Manuel Santos said on Wednesday he is confident he will be in a position to call a ceasefire with Marxist Farc rebels starting New Year’s Day if the fifth and final agenda point at peace talks is completed.

The government and leaders of the Revolutionary Armed Forces of Colombia (Farc) have waded through a five-point agenda during negotiations to end 51 years of war. So far three items have been agreed since talks began in Havana in late 2012.

Farc called a unilateral ceasefire in July, but the government has kept up ground attacks even while stopping air raids. Mr Santos has refused to reciprocate on the ceasefire because in past negotiations the rebels have taken advantage of peaceful conditions to build up their forces and rearm.

“From now until December 31st, we will make the effort so that for example we could finish point five,” Mr Santos told reporters in Bogota.

“And that way declare a bilateral and internationally verifiable ceasefire from January 1st.”

The government and Farc have been in peace talks for three years. They recently set a deadline of March 23rd to reach a final agreement, which would then be put before Colombian voters for ratification.

While most Colombians are anxious for an end to a war that has killed more than 220,000 people and forced millions from their homes, many fear former Farc rebels will join organized crime gangs.

Reuters