Colombia's FARC presses Santos for ceasefire

Colombia's leftist FARC guerrillas called on President Juan Manuel Santos Tuesday to agree to a cease-fire, saying they supported a proposal for an internationally verified truce.

Ivan Marquez, the chief FARC negotiator in peace talks in Havana with the Santos government, praised a truce proposal advanced by a conservative former lawmaker and government minister, Alvaro Leyva.

"We agree with your proposal for a bilateral truce with international oversight," he said, addressing Leyva.

Leyva made the proposal in a column published in the newspaper El Nuevo Siglo calling for "a ceasefire, a bilateral truce, but one that is for real. Controlled. With an international verification mission for the truce."

In the past, Santos has adamantly rejected a ceasefire without a peace agreement, seeing it as a FARC ploy.

The last attempt at a negotiated settlement collapsed in 2002 when rebels used a Switzerland-sized demilitarized zone set aside as an encouragement for peace to instead regroup and rearm.

The FARC declared a unilateral ceasefire for two months after the start of the current peace talks in November, but did not extend it after the government failed to reciprocate.

Marquez, the FARC's number two leader, said it wasn't true that the FARC, the country's largest rebel group, was seeking to regroup under cover of a ceasefire.

"The logic of guerrilla war has shown that when you are not fighting, you tend to disappear," Marquez said. "For us a ceasefire implies a big effort, but we know it is an important step to show the will for peace on both sides."

The FARC, which is estimated to number around 8,000 fighters, has been waging an armed struggle since 1964, making the conflict the oldest in Latin America.