March 10, 2014
Colombia, rebels say making progress in talks over drug trade
The Colombian government and FARC guerrilla negotiators said that they had made progress toward an agreement on combating illegal drug trafficking, a sign that peace talks were making headway before elections.
The joint statement by President Juan Manuel Santos' government and the Revolutionary Armed Forces of Colombia (FARC) said there had been "advances" in the negotiations, the latest round of which concluded today. The talks are due to resume on Feb. 24.
"We have been working nonstop throughout this round of conversations and we have started building agreements on the point 'solving the illicit drugs problem,'" the statement said.
Sustained progress could help President Juan Manuel Santos in his campaign for re-election in May. Santos has been criticized by opposition candidates for his decision to negotiate with the guerrillas rather than defeat them militarily.
Progress in the talks also indicates that they have not been hampered by accusations that rogue members of military intelligence were spying on government negotiators. FARC has also said its delegation was being spied upon.
Drug trafficking is the third of six points under discussion by the two sides. The talks, hosted by Cuba over the past 15 months, aim to end half a century of hostilities in Latin America's longest running guerrilla conflict.