HAVANA — Progress has been made in peace talks between Colombia's government and FARC rebels, Bogota's chief negotiator said Thursday in his first comments since negotiations began 10 days ago.
"I can say, as reflected in the joint statements, that we have made progress in accordance with our expectations," Humberto de la Calle told reporters, as the two sides try to negotiate an end to Latin America's longest-running guerrilla war.
Colombian negotiators traveled Thursday to Bogota to consult with government officials, de la Calle said, while Revolutionary Armed Forces of Colombia rebel delegates said they will remain in Havana.
Talks will resume next week and address agrarian reform, the parties said in a joint statement.
Both sides also agreed to open a website — www.mesadeconversaciones.com.co — that, starting December 7, will include joint statements and allow for "virtual discussion."
Following a preliminary round of talks in October in Norway, negotiations began in Havana on November 19 with the FARC declaring a unilateral two-month cease-fire.
Colombian President Juan Manuel Santos, however, said that military operations against the guerrillas would continue until a deal is brokered.
The FARC — Latin America's largest rebel group, founded in 1964 and believed to have some 9,000 armed fighters — took up arms to protest the concentration of land ownership in Colombia.
The rebels have suffered a string of military defeats in recent years, and several of their top commanders have been captured or killed. FARC ranks have also been severely depleted its peak in the 1990s.
Aside from reaching a deal on land ownership, both sides must also agree on a mechanism to end hostilities, incorporating the FARC into political life, curbing drug trafficking, and on compensating victims of the conflict.
Both sides have expressed confidence that an end to the decades-long conflict that has claimed hundreds of thousands of lives is within reach.
According to the United Nations, hundreds of thousands of people have died and 4 million have been driven from their homes in the conflict, which also involves a smaller guerrilla army and right-wing paramilitary groups.
© AFP 2013