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Colombia peace talks resume after FARC free general

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(GlobalPost/GlobalPost)

Peace talks between the Colombian government and leftist FARC guerrillas resumed Wednesday after a crisis sparked by the rebels' capture of an army general.

"We are beginning a new cycle of talks today. This clearly shows that we have left behind the events of the past weeks," said the government's chief negotiator, Humberto de la Calle, as negotiations to end the 50-year-old conflict resumed in the Cuban capital Havana.

The new talks come 10 days after the Revolutionary Armed Forces of Colombia (FARC) freed general Ruben Alzate, whose capture on November 16 caused President Juan Manuel Santos to suspend the two-year-old peace process.

Alzate, who has since stepped down and admitted to breaching security protocol, was the commander of a task force charged with fighting rebels and drug traffickers in the impoverished, jungle-covered region of Choco.

He was captured along with a corporal and an adviser as they traveled to visit a local energy project, in civilian clothes and without a security detail.

The FARC released all three, plus two soldiers captured in combat, under a deal to revive the peace talks, which have made more progress than any of the three previous attempts to end the conflict.

The current cycle of talks will run until December 17, focusing on the "de-escalation of the conflict" and reparations for victims, negotiators said.

On December 16, a group of 12 victims will testify on their experiences.

The conflict has killed 220,000 people and uprooted more than five million since the FARC was founded in 1964, drawing in drug traffickers, right-wing paramilitaries and several left-wing rebel groups at various times.

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http://www.globalpost.com/dispatch/news/afp/131003/french-business-activity-picking