Colombian officials met with FARC dissidents, president’s tweet shows


Government representatives have met members of an armed group that emerged from demobilized FARC rebels, photos show.

Representatives of the Colombian government have met members of an armed group that emerged from the demobilized FARC rebels, photos tweeted by President Gustavo Petro show.

Petro, who took office in August, has pledged to seek “total peace” by fully implementing a 2016 peace deal with the Revolutionary Armed Forces of Colombia (FARC) and talking to would-be dissidents who reject the accord, as well as criminal gangs.

On his Twitter account, Petro posted two photos on Sunday in which Peace Commissioner Danilo Rueda appeared to be meeting with dissident commanders, captioning “a dialogue has begun”.

Petro, a former member of the armed group M-19, did not provide further details and the government did not immediately respond to a request for comment.

Banners in the background of the photos showed the name of the Jorge Suarez Briceno Front, a faction of the FARC.

Several commanders of the two major dissident groups have been killed in recent months, including across the border in Venezuela.

Earlier this month, at least seven police officers were killed in an explosives attack in western Colombia, the deadliest attack on security forces since Petro took office and pledged to end the nearly 60-year-old conflict in the country.

According to police sources, the officers were killed when the vehicle they were driving was hit by explosives. According to security sources, so-called dissidents of the FARC rebel movement are known to be active in the area.

Petro has pledged to seek “total peace” by resuming talks with National Liberation Army (ELN) rebels, applying a 2016 peace deal to former FARC fighters who reject it, and negotiating the surrender of criminal gangs in exchange for reduced sentences.

His predecessor, conservative Ivan Duque, had broken off peace talks with the ELN after a 2019 car bomb attack on a police academy in Bogota that killed 22 people.

Dissident groups have rejected their former leaders’ peace deal and number some 2,400 fighters in their ranks, according to the government.

Several well-known dissident commanders have been killed recently, many in fighting across the border in Venezuela.

The conflict in Colombia between the government, left-wing rebels, right-wing paramilitaries and drug trafficking gangs killed at least 450,000 people between 1985 and 2018 alone.

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