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Colombia and FARC open Norway peace talks

Negotiators from the Colombian government and the country's left-wing FARC rebels have in Norway launched their first direct talks for a decade, after almost 50 years of conflict.

Norwegian Foreign Minister Espen Barth Eide says the opening of the peace talks on Thursday was "a vcery good start".

Both sides had asked Norway to facilitate the opening of the talks, which are expected to last for several months.

Colombia's negotiator said both sides agreed on the need for social change.

FARC delegation head Ivan Marquez said they came "with an olive branch" but peace did not mean "arms go quiet", referring to the fact there is no ceasefire during the talks.

The launch of the talks began with a news conference at a hotel in Hurdal 40 miles (60km) north of Oslo, involving intermediaries from both Norway and Cuba, the two countries acting as guarantors of the process.

In a joint declaration which was read out at the press conference, both sides agreed to launch the talks in Norway and then move on to the Cuban capital Havana next month.

It also said the issue of rural development would be the first issue and would be dealt with from 15 November in Havana.

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