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Colombian govt, FARC to partner on landmines

Colombia’s government and the Revolutionary Armed Forces of Colombia (FARC) rebels have agreed to work together to remove landmines in rural areas of the country where they have fought since the 1960s.

The announcement was made in Cuba, where both sides have been engaged in peace talks for more than two years.

Under the deal,FARC rebels will work alongside members of the military to remove the landmines and other explosive devices.

Colombia is one of the most heavily mined countries in the world.

More than 11,000 people have been injured or killed by land­mines in Colombia over the past 15 years.

“The proposal for demining is a first step, but a giant step to­ward making peace,” said Colom­bian government chief negotiator Humberto de la Calle.

President Juan Manuel Santos welcomed the news, which gives his government’s peace efforts an­other boost.

“I would like to congratulate our negotiating team and acknowl­edge what the Farc are doing, be­cause this is bringing us closer to the shared objective of reaching peace in Colombia,” he said.

Humberto de la Calle and Co­lombian peace negotiators in Ha­vana Mr De la Calle, who is lead­ing the government’s negotiating team, is a former Colombian vice-president, Ivan Marquez, FARC commander, in Havana Farc lead­ing negotiator Ivan Marquez said the deal would benefit “humble people who work on the land”

The demining and decontami­nation operation will be overseen by experts from Norway, one of the countries that has been facili­tating the peace negotiations.

The Farc members involved in the effort will not wear uniforms or carry weapons, said Mr De la Calle.

The operation was announced in a joint statement in Havana, marking the end of a round of negotiations that focused on the rights of victims. FARC negotia­tors have been engaged in peace talks with the Colombian govern­ment since November 2012.

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