2016-10-19 16:48









Colombian President Extends Cease-Fire with Rebels

Colombian President Juan Manuel Santos said Thursday he agreed to extend a cease-fire deal with the Revolutionary Armed Forces of Colombia (FARC) in hopes of reviving a failed peace accord.

The original cease-fire agreement between the Colombian government and the FARC was due to expire at the end of October, but will now extend through the end of the year.

Voters narrowly rejected the deal with 50.2 against, or by a margin of just 54,000 votes. The result came as a shock to Colombian leaders as public opinion polls leading up to the vote forecast the referendum would pass by a two-to-one margin.

Santos is engaged in ongoing negotiations with FARC representatives and opposition politicians to strike a new peace deal, though expectations for a deal remain low because FARC leaders refuse to budge on the already-signed peace accord and opponents say the rebels need to accept tougher terms.

Many "no" voters were genuinely offended that nearly all FARC rebels will avoid prison time for crimes allegedly committed during the uprising and get various financial support from the government.

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Syria Cease-fire Unlikely as Concerns Focus on Preventing Wider Conflict

Top diplomats from the United States, Russia, and the Middle East will attempt to salvage a failed Syria cease-fire agreement this weekend.

The renewed efforts come less than two weeks after the United States suspended bilateral negotiations with Russia and the two sides exchanged mutual recriminations. Russian officials say they are hopeful for positive results.

But as fighting continues in the besieged city of Aleppo, analysts are skeptical of any lasting cease-fire.

Many believe Russia wants to first help Assad take Aleppo so they can have a stronger negotiating position.

While a cease-fire would be welcomed, analysts say the bigger concern is preventing a wider conflict developing in Syria.

A White House spokesman ruled out the possibility of any U.S. military cooperation with Russia in Syria. U.S. officials say it is now clear their goals in Syria are no longer compatible with Russia’s, a view echoed by some analysts.

Russia has increased its military presence in Syria and announced plans to maintain bases there indefinitely.