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Fighters from Revolutionary Armed Forces of Colombia (FARC), arriving at the camp where they prepare for an upcoming congress ratifying a peace deal with the government, near El Diamante in Yari Plains, Colombia, September 16, 2016. — Reuters pic
Fighters from Revolutionary Armed Forces of Colombia (FARC), arriving at the camp where they prepare for an upcoming congress ratifying a peace deal with the government, near El Diamante in Yari Plains, Colombia, September 16, 2016. — Reuters pic

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WASHINGTON, Nov 24 ― The Biden administration is preparing to remove Colombian rebel group FARC from the US list of foreign terrorist organisations, five years after the rebels signed a peace agreement with Bogota, two people familiar with the matter said yesterday.

The US State Department notified Congress yesterday of its planned delisting of the leftist Revolutionary Armed Forces of Colombia, known by the Spanish acronym FARC, and an announcement is expected in coming days, one of the sources told Reuters.

Dropping the terrorism designation could help free up US aid to projects that involve former rebels and bolster the agreement overall with a further demonstration of US support.

“We have started the process of consulting with Congress on actions that we are taking with regards to the FARC,” State Department spokesman Ned Price told a daily briefing, adding that there would be more details in coming days.

He declined to specify whether that would mean removing FARC from the terrorism blacklist, but said the Biden administration was committed to the “implementation and preservation” of the Colombia peace accord.

FARC reached a peace deal with the Colombian government in 2016, ending its part in the Andean country’s decades-old internal armed conflict, which has left millions displaced and more than 260,000 dead.

The deal was negotiated with the support of then-US President Barack Obama’s administration, in which Joe Biden served as vice president.

FARC was first designated as a terrorist organisation by the United States in October 1997.

Following demobilization, the guerrillas entered politics, initially calling themselves the Revolutionary Alternative Common Force, keeping the FARC acronym, then later rebranded as Comunes. The party’s leadership received 10 congressional seats after the peace deal was signed.

The peace deal has been beset with challenges, including the decision of several former commanders ― who argued the pact was not being fulfilled ― to return to arms, as well as the killings of around 300 former members of FARC across the country, according to local advocacy group Indepaz.

The Colombian government, one of Washington’s closest allies in Latin America, did not immediately respond to a request for comment.

Biden met Colombian President Ivan Duque for the first time on the sidelines of an international climate summit in Scotland earlier this month. It was not known if they discussed the prospects for FARC’s delisting.

The Biden administration’s decision was first reported by The Wall Street Journal and confirmed to Reuters by two sources familiar with the matter, including a congressional aide.

Among the arguments for the delisting was that former FARC members are now involved in so many aspects of Colombian political and economic life that it was hard to provide certain types of US aid due to restrictions imposed by the blacklist, one of the US sources said.

Groups on the list face the freezing of US assets and prohibition on Americans providing aid or doing business with them. ― Reuters


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