BOGOTA, Colombia (AP) — The Colombian government and leftist rebels announced Sunday that they will seek to work out a full cease-fire that would end a more than five-decade long conflict in this South American nation.
Colombia has agreed to scale down military action if the guerrilla group known as the Revolutionary Armed Forces of Colombia suspends all attacks.
The de-escalation is scheduled to begin July 20, said a joint statement read Sunday in Havana, where the two sides have been negotiating on a peace accord for nearly three years. The FARC already announced it would implement a unilateral cease-fire on that date, one of several it has initiated and then suspended during the peace talks.
Colombian President Juan Manuel Santos hailed the announcement as a significant step. The government had previously rejected the notion of a provisional cease-fire, saying the rebels would use it to regroup and then commit more violence.
Negotiators have tentatively agreed to implement the bilateral drawdown of military action for four months as they work toward a permanent truce using a new streamlined negotiating process.
The announcement followed intensified attacks by both sides that some Colombians feared could endanger the peace talks.
Earlier this month, Colombia's top government negotiator had warned that time for a deal was running out. Last week, Cuba and Norway, which are aiding the peace talks, called on the government and rebels to ease hostilities.