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Colombian election seen as referendum on peace talks

Colombia holds legislative elections Sunday that are seen as a referendum on peace talks with FARC leftist guerrillas and a trial run for a presidential vote in May. Since they opened in late 2012 in Cuba, the talks that President Jose Manuel Santos has held with the Marxist rebels have dominated political life in Colombia. The FARC, or Revolutionary Armed Forces of Colombia, have been fighting successive governments for 50 years and are Latin America's oldest insurgency.

Colombian rebels free police officer

Bogota, Mar 6 (EFE).- Colombia's ELN rebel group on Thursday freed an auxiliary police officer taken prisoner Feb. 17 in the northwestern province of Antioquia, the International Committee of the Red Cross said. Rafael Eduardo Sierra Acosta, 19, was handed over to a delegation that included ICRC representatives and Cali Archbishop Dario de Jesus Monsalve. When he was freed, Sierra "was in proper shape to travel" and was transported in a helicopter to the airport in Caucasia, Antioquia, according to an ICRC communique.

Colombia rejects rebel safe conduct request

The FARC guerrilla group said Tuesday Colombia's government has turned down its request to send representatives to Bogota to argue in court against a referendum on a future peace accord. The chief rebel negotiator in peace talks in Havana said the group had asked for safe conduct so it could send "two or three" people to present their case before the country's constitutional court. "We had an exchange on the issue with the government's delegation to the peace talks and they told us definitively ... there would be no safe conduct," the FARC negotiator Ivan Marquez said.

Colombia rebels deny deadly supermarket blast

Colombia's FARC rebels on Saturday denied responsibility for a supermarket bombing that left four people dead. A member of the Revolutionary Armed Forces of Colombia (FARC) delegation attending peace talks in Havana said the group had no involvement in Wednesday's bombing in the town of Quibdo, which also injured 10. FARC negotiator Marcos Calarca said the group was habitually accused of violence by authorities in Colombia.

Canadians to see Canada-EU free trade pact legal text soon, says Fast

OTTAWA - The legal text of the Canada-European Union free trade agreement will be ready for Canadians to examine soon, possibly in the next month or two, federal Trade Minister Ed Fast said Friday. The agreement was signed amidst much fanfare in mid-October, but finalizing the text and putting it into legal language has taken time. Fast said the delay is not unusual given the complexities of the agreement.

Colombian rebels want U.S. to participate in peace talks

By Rosa Tania Valdés HAVANA (Reuters) - Colombia's FARC rebels asked for the United States to join its peace talks with the Colombian government, saying on Friday it would speed up the process because Washington was making all the important decisions anyway. The U.S. State Department said it disagreed with FARC's assessment and was unaware of any effort to join the talks. Colombia did not respond to the request, which it would likely reject on grounds of national sovereignty.

Attack on Colombia candidate highlights risks to left

By Helen Murphy and Luis Jaime Acosta BOGOTA (Reuters) - Through the noise and dust churned up by her armored car, leftist presidential candidate Aida Avella assumed the popping noise was a rock hitting the wheel. When her bodyguards lost radio contact with the rest of her security detail travelling behind, she knew something was wrong. Avella's convoy was under armed attack.

Colombia's outgoing-V.P. declines ambassadorship

Bogota, Feb 25 (EFE).- Vice President Angelino Garzon on Tuesday declined an offer to become Colombia's ambassador to Brazil when his term ends later this year. Garzon, who announced months ago that he would not seek another term, turned down the ambassadorship a day after President Juan Manuel Santos named a running mate for his re-election bid.

Colombia's outgoing-V.P. declines ambassadorship

Bogota, Feb 25 (EFE).- Vice President Angelino Garzon on Tuesday declined an offer to become Colombia's ambassador to Brazil when his term ends later this year. Garzon, who announced months ago that he would not seek another term, turned down the ambassadorship a day after President Juan Manuel Santos named a running mate for his re-election bid.

Colombia's Santos taps former Cabinet minister as running mate

Bogota, Feb 24 (EFE).- Colombian President Juan Manuel Santos on Monday named former Cabinet member German Vargas Lleras as his running mate in his bid for a second four-year term. Santos made the announcement with Vargas Lleras at his side during a speech to the Good Government Foundation in Bogota. The 52-year-old lawyer is the grandson of President Carlos Lleras Restrepo and served successively as interior minister and housing minister in the Santos administration.
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