HAVANA – Peace negotiations between the Colombian government and the FARC guerrillas moved a step closer toward ending the country’s internal conflict when a group of top-level military officers arrived in this capital to hold an unprecedented face-to-face meeting with the rebels to discuss proposals for a permanent cease-fire.
The military delegation, comprised of four generals and a rear admiral, on Thursday joined the peace talks in Havana, where until Saturday they will exchange ideas with the negotiating team from the Revolutionary Armed Forces of Colombia, or FARC, within the framework of the so-called End of the Conflict Subcommittee, which operates in parallel to the formal talks.
Included in the military group are army Gens. Martin Fernando Nieto and Alfonso Rojas Tirado, air force Gen. Oswaldo Rivera, navy Rear Adm. Orlando Romero and National Police Gen. Alvaro Pico, none of whom made any comments to the press on Thursday.
The subcommittee was established last August with representatives of both parties to decide on delicate matters such as ending hostilities, laying down arms, demobilizing the guerrilla forces and helping them transition back to civilian life.
Gen. Javier Florez heads the government delegation to the subcommittee, while the FARC negotiators there are led by Milton de Jesus Toncel Redondo.
The FARC did not comment on Thursday either about the presence of the top military officers, although that it did say in a statement that it expects to modify elements of the general accord governing the peace process as it pertains to ending the conflict.
“We’re looking at it, analyzing the possibility of a bilateral cease-fire. That’s why these generals are going to that subcommittee,” said Colombian Foreign Minister Maria Angela Holguin in an interview with Efe in Geneva on Thursday.
Both Colombian President Juan Manuel Santos and Defense Minister Juan Carlos Pinzon have insisted that the presence of the military men in Havana is a source of “confidence” for the country because it guarantees that active-duty military experts are speaking directly with the FARC to find the best way forward in the talks.