Colombia military, FARC meet for first time
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Colombia military, FARC meet for first time

Members of Colombia’s military met face-to-face Friday with FARC rebels for the first time as talks aimed at ending a half-century war enter a decisive phase.

The peace negotiations with the Revolutionary Armed Forces of Colombia (FARC), which have been taking place in Cuba’s capital the past two years, still face a number of obstacles.

But reflecting mounting optimism a deal is within reach, Colombian President Juan Manuel Santos decided to send some of the military’s most-decorated officers to Havana to begin discussions on how to carry out any cease-fire.

Leading the delegation is Gen. Javier Flores, head of Colombia’s joint chiefs of staff. He has been one of the FARC’s fiercest battlefield adversaries, having led an elite, U.S.-trained unit that took out several top guerrilla leaders.

See also: A new role for victims in the peace talks: Too little, too late?