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Armed Conflict

Colombia and FARC rebels report progress

Colombia’s government and the Marxist FARC rebel faction have announced progress in peace talks being held in Cuba. Agreement of land reform has always been a major sticking point, but there is now room for optimism.

Rebels from the leftist group on Sunday said that talks to end half a century of conflict appeared to be delivering results.

The comments came at the end of the latest negotiations in the Cuban capital, Havana.

According to Rodrigo Garcia, a senior leader of FARC, the discussions were heading in the right direction and were moving "at the speed of a bullet train."

The lead government negotiator Humberto de la Calle was a little more reserved, but he did claim "the pace has improved and we have to maintain and preserve it."

The insurgency is Latin America's longest running and has resulted in the deaths of tens of thousands of people.

Land reform has been a key sticking point. FARC on Saturday released a statement claiming the government had a duty to "settle its historic debt" by turning over land.

FARC has issued statements in the past that call for, among other things, an end to foreign investment in oil exploration. The rebels are thought to have just 9,000 troops and these have been forced into increasingly remote areas.

Colombian President Juan Manuel Santos has said he wants to see the peace process wrapped up by November.

rc/ccp (AFP, AP, Reuters)