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Cablegate: Goc and Farc Continue Media Exchange On

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E.O. 12958: DECL: 10/06/2016
TAGS: MARR PGOV PREL PTER CO FR SP SZ
SUBJECT: GOC AND FARC CONTINUE MEDIA EXCHANGE ON
HUMANITARIAN ACCORD

REF: BOGOTA 8946

Classified By: Ambassador William B. Wood.
Reason: 1.4(b,d)

1. (C) Summary: The GOC and FARC have exchanged media
statements in recent days on the possibility of creating an
"encounter zone" to discuss a humanitarian exchange of
FARC-held hostages for FARC terrorists imprisoned by the GOC.
President Uribe insists any such talks be a prelude to
substantive peace discussions with the FARC, a prospect the
terrorist group heavily conditioned but did not discount.
The public exchanges have generated intense media speculation
on prospects for a humanitarian accord, but both sides appear
to remain far apart on the conditions for launching
substantive talks. End summary.

2. (C) Uribe announced September 27 that he was willing to
discuss with the FARC a proposal on a humanitarian accord.
Reading from a prepared text, Uribe said the GOC would
consider an exchange of hostages, including a FARC proposal
that the GOC withdraw armed forces from two municipalities in
the state of Valle del Cauca to create an "encounter zone"
for discussions. Casa Narino Communications Director Jorge
Mario Eastman told us Uribe's response was prompted by a
September 26 FARC statement criticizing the GOC's
intransigence. Eastman explained that Uribe wanted to "open
the door" to a humanitarian deal and to highlight GOC
flexibility. He reiterated that Uribe is eager to start
direct talks with the FARC, but not at any price. Uribe
wants to avoid any similarities to former President
Pastrana'sdespeje and to also link any humanitarian accord
to the start of broader peace talks.

3. (U) The FARC tossed the ball back to the GOC in an open
letter from the FARC Secretariat on October 1. The letter
listed FARC requirements for humanitarian exchange talks and
included a laundry list of additional issues the FARC insists
are prerequisites to negotiations on a "political solution to
the social and armed conflict." The GOC responded with a
communique on October 2. The communique reiterated the GOC's
commitment to discuss talks on a humanitarian accord, linked
the creation of an "encounter zone" to a cease-fire,
establishment of deadlines and the FARC's acceptance of
specific security conditions, and noted the GOC's willingness
to convoke a "constituent assembly" as part of a broader
peace process.

4. (U) Uribe elaborated on the GOC position in an October 3
radio interview. He made it clear that the GOC is willing to
meet with the FARC, but emphasized that any humanitarian
accord needs to be part of a broader peace process. Uribe
said a peace agreement with the FARC might require
constitutional amendments to provide amnesty for more serious
crimes. In that case, it should be expected that the
paramilitaries would ask for similar consideration rather
than treatment under the Justice and Peace Law.

5. (C) Longtime political operative and former presidential
candidate Alvaro Leyva told us October 2 that he has met
three times with President Uribe since August 7 to discuss
ways to start GOC-FARC negotiations. He said the FARC's
October 1 letter should be read positively, since it is the
first time that the FARC has accepted the notion of broader
peace talks with the Uribe government. He suggested that a
demilitarized "encounter zone" could be created by the end of
October, but stressed that the GOC and FARC would need to
overcome their mutual distrust and agree to defer
consideration of difficult issues (such as the repatriation
of "Simon Trinidad" and "Sonia" and the freeing of the US
hostages). He is working to generate confidence between the
two parties, and suggested that the international community
could help in this regard. In this context, he has spoken
with representatives of the Swiss Government, the Vatican,
and the International Committee of the Red Cross. Polcouns
noted we remain skeptical about the FARC's intentions and
stressed President Uribe's commitment that the U.S. hostages
would be included in any humanitarian exchange.

6. (C) Eastman confirmed Leyva's role as GOC interlocutor
with the FARC, but said it is difficult to work with him.
The GOC never knows if Leyva is transmitting a message from
the FARC or is operating on his own account. Eastman said
the GOC's lack of reliable, discreet interlocutors with the
FARC forces the GOC to use the media to talk to the group.
He added that the need for public negotiations greatly
complicates communications and reduces prospects for success.
WOOD

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