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U.S. welcomes Colombia's efforts to engage rebel group for talks

(Xinhua)

11:09, August 29, 2012

WASHINGTON, Aug. 28 (Xinhua) -- The United States on Tuesday welcomed Colombia's latest efforts to end a decades-old conflict in the country by engaging anew the rebel Revolutionary Armed Forces of Colombia (FARC) in talks.

"We would, of course, welcome any efforts to end the hemisphere 's longest-running conflict and to bring about lasting peace in Colombia," State Department spokeswoman Victoria Nuland told reporters at a regular news briefing.

"You know that we've been a very strong and unwavering partner of Colombia and its people in this struggle, and we hope that its citizens will find peace and security," she added.

In a televised address on Monday, Colombian President Juan Manuel Santos confirmed that his government has conducted " exploratory talks" in Havana, Cuba with FARC representatives and the two sides signed an agreement to initiate peace talks on October 5 in Oslo, Norway.

The FARC is Colombia's largest rebel group with about 9,000 members. Although it suffered serious defeats in fighting with government troops from 2000 to 2010, it has recently increased hit- and-run attacks, in particular on oil and mining facilities.

The government's last effort to hold talks with the FARC was in the late 1990s.

The group is branded as a terrorist organization by both Colombia and the United States, and Washington has offered military support to the Colombian government to fight the guerrillas.

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