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Colombia and FARC rebels reach land reform agreement

The government of Colombia and left-wing rebel group FARC reached a land reform agreement Sunday after more than six months of peace talks.

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Colombian President Juan Manuel Santos has said he will begin peace talks with FARC. (AFP/AFP/Getty Images)

The government of Colombia and left-wing rebel group FARC reached a land reform agreement Sunday after more than six months of peace talks.

"This agreement will be the start of a radical transformation of rural Colombia," read a joint statement.

The land reform agreement is the first of six points negotiators need to resolve to reach a peace deal. Under the agreement, land not being used would be given to poor Colombians to cultivate, and the government would provide loans and credits to the farmers.

Impoverished areas of the countryside would also be given improvements in infrastructure, healthcare and housing, but privately owned land would not be affected.

"Today we have a real opportunity to attain peace through dialogue,'' said the Colombian government's chief negotiator, Humberto de la Calle.

"To support this process is to believe in Colombia," he told journalists at the talks in the Cuban capital, Havana.

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Both sides noted that the land agreement would only take effect if an overall peace agreement were reached.

The FARC's chief negotiator, Ivan Marquez, said several issues still needed to be resolved in later discussions before a final deal could be decided upon.

"We have advanced in the construction of an accord that will necessarily be checked over before the completion of the final agreement," he said.

The talks in Cuba, which started in November, are the fourth attempt to reach an agreement to settle the conflict between the Colombian government and the FARC rebels.

http://www.globalpost.com/dispatch/news/regions/americas/colombia/130527/colombia-and-farc-rebels-reach-land-reform-agreement