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Friday, 14 April, 2000, 03:29 GMT 04:29 UK
Colombia peace hopes raised

Government and FARC negotiators on Tuesday
By Jeremy McDermott in Bogota

Negotiators from the Colombian Government and the Revolutionary Armed Forces of Colombia (FARC) have announced that for the first time they are exploring the possibilities of a ceasefire.

The peace process with the FARC has been going on since January last year, but the 17,000-strong rebel army has refused to call a cessation of hostilities, insisting talks had to be conducted in the midst of war.

The new announcement, whilst not promising any sort of peace soon, is a change in position for the FARC, which before stated that a ceasefire would only become a possibility after 80% of the peace agenda had been covered.


ELN rebel
ELN rebels have declared an Easter ceasefire
The negotiators have only really just begun discussing the agenda to bring an end to the 36 years of civil conflict.

The news came after an announcement by the second largest guerrilla group - the National Liberation Army (ELN) - saying it would observe a 10-day ceasefire during the Catholic celebrations over Easter.

It is a boost for the government, which has been heavily criticised for granting sweeping concessions to the guerrillas in return for nothing but record levels of violence and kidnapping.

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