Colombian archbishop optimistic about Marxist rebels’ openness to dialogue

.- The president of the Bishops’ Conference of Colombia, Archbishop Luis Augusto Castro, termed “hopeful” the latest statements by the Armed Revolutionary Forces of Colombia (FARC) expressing their interest in dialoging with the government.  “This could smooth out the path in the search for a humanitarian accord,” he said.

Speaking to the French daily “L’Humanité,” FARC’s number two leader, Raul Reyes, said the rebels were open to sitting down for talks with the government of Alvaro Uribe, but he said the demilitarization of the Colombian states of Caqueta and Putumayo would be a condition for beginning dialogue.  Such a condition has been rejected by Colombian officials.

Nevertheless, former Colombian president Alfonso Lopez said the FARC’s openness to dialogue was a positive development despite the group’s demands.  “Now FARC has again raised its price and wants Putumayo and Caqueta, but the normal thing to do in negotiations is to split the differences,” Lopez said during a radio interview.

Archbishop Casto called for prudence and said the parties involved should seek direct contact with each other “and discontinue speaking through the media.”

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