Colombia's FARC rebels offer talks, conditions to new president
Colombia's FARC rebels made a bid late Friday for talks with newly-elected President Juan Manuel Santos to end its 46- year-old militant war against the government, dpa reported.
But the leader of the Revolutionary Armed Forces of Colombia also made clear that if Santos does not agree to a new socialist order, that FARC would continue its bloody rebellion.
"We are convinced that Colombia can end this civil war, if we can find the way to common talks and open a window on the future in which we, as Colombians, stop killing each other," said "Alfonso Cano", head of the leftist FARC.
He made the offer in a three-part video posted on an internet website, a week before Santos' inauguration on August 7.
"The war gives us no pleasure, we are not happy when our adversaries die," said the sociologist, whose real name is Guillermo Saenz.
Saenz demanded that the talks must lead to a "just social order under the banner of socialism" - or the "revolutionary fight" would continue.
Outgoing President Alvaro Uribe, a conservative whose chosen successor is Santos, his former defence minister, and who aggressively pursued the rebels, has declared that FARC was near its end. Cano called the statement a lie.
During Uribe's eight years of governance, and with billions of dollars in US military support, the Colombian government dealt FARC its worst defeats in decades. The government says the number of rebels fell from 20,000 in 2002 to a current 8,000 - either through death, defection or arrest.
Cano charged that the government has hidden the real cost of its battle against FARC. He claimed that in May alone, military and police suffered 304 dead and 250 wounded during 312 clashes. The numbers are higher than those given by the government.