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Colombian officials met FARC dissidents, president’s tweet shows

Government officials have met with members of an armed group formed from demobilized FARC rebels, photos show.

Colombian government officials have met with members of an armed group that emerged from demobilized FARC rebels, photos tweeted by President Gustavo Petro show.

Petro, who took office in August, has vowed to seek “total peace” by fully implementing a 2016 peace deal with the Revolutionary Armed Forces of Colombia (FARC) and speaking to so-called dissidents who oppose the deal, as well as criminals gangs .

On his Twitter account on Sunday, Petro posted two photos apparently showing Peace Commissioner Danilo Rueda’s meeting with dissident commanders, with the caption “A dialogue has begun.”

Petro, a former member of the armed group M-19, gave no further details and the government did not immediately respond to a request for comment.

Banners in the background of the photos showed the name of the front Jorge Suarez Briceno, a faction of the FARC.

Several commanders of the two major dissident groups have been killed in recent months, including across the border in Venezuela.

Earlier this month, at least seven police officers were killed in a bomb attack in western Colombia, the deadliest attack on security forces since Petros took office, which vowed to end the country’s nearly 60-year conflict.

According to police sources, the officers were killed when the vehicle they were traveling in was hit by explosives. According to security circles, so-called dissidents from the FARC rebel movement are said to be operating in the area.

Petro has vowed to seek “total peace” by resuming talks with National Liberation Army (ELN) rebels, applying a 2016 peace deal to former FARC fighters who oppose it, and capitulating criminal gangs in exchange for it negotiate reduced penalties.

His predecessor, the conservative Ivan Duque, had broken off peace talks with the ELN after a 2019 car bomb attack on a police academy in Bogota that killed 22 people.

Dissident groups have rejected the peace deal negotiated by their former leaders and, according to the government, have around 2,400 fighters in their ranks.

Several well-known dissident commanders have been killed recently, many in fighting across the border in Venezuela.

Colombia’s conflict between the government, left-wing rebels, right-wing paramilitaries and drug gangs killed at least 450,000 between 1985 and 2018 alone.

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