The Colombian government and the Revolutionary Armed Forces of Colombia, or FARC, will kick off phase one of peace talks on Thursday in Norway to end a decades-long conflict.
The FARC, a Marxist militant group described as a terrorist organization by the U.S. State Department, has been at war with Colombia since 1964.
They are accused of extrajudicial killings, kidnappings, enlisting child soldiers, using widely banned anti-personnel land mines, and more recently, drug trafficking. Over the years, several of the FARC’s top commanders were killed by the Colombian military.
On Wednesday, both government and FARC negotiation teams arrived in Oslo, reported Colombian media and the EFE news agency. The FARC team flew from the Cuban capital of Havana, where phase two of peace talks will take place.
However, whether or not the peace talks actually lead to a lasting ceasefire agreement or another deal is up in the air. Colombia and FARC rebels have held talks since the 1980s, with no lasting peace agreements. Thursday will begin the first peace talks in ten years.
Since the conflict between FARC, the oldest and largest insurgency group in Latin America, and the military began five decades ago, more than 100,000 Colombians have been killed.
According to a statement issued from Colombian President Juan Manuel Santos on Tuesday, the talks aim to not only end the conflict, but mark “the beginning of a period of social transformation in Colombia.”
His office, however, cautioned against “false optimism” during the talks, “but we do believe there are structural elements in place that give us hope” for peace in Colombia.
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