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Colombia's FARC rebels announce monthlong, unilateral cease-fire starting July 20

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HAVANA — Colombia's largest guerrilla army on Wednesday announced a monthlong, unilateral cease-fire, seeking to ease tensions as it continues long-running peace talks with the government.

Following a series of intensified attacks by both sides that have complicated the peace process, the Revolutionary Armed Forces of Colombia, or FARC, said it will halt hostilities as of July 20.

"We came to Cuba to achieve a peace accord, to put an end to a war that has gone on for more than half a century," said a rebel leader who was born Luciano Marin Arango and goes by the nom de guerre Ivan Marquez.

"Nothing would please us more than definitively ending the confrontation," he said in Havana, reading from a rebel statement.

The guerrillas said they were responding to a call for restraint by both sides that was issued the previous day by Cuba and Norway, which are helping facilitate the negotiations in Havana.

Colombian President Juan Manuel Santos welcomed the move but urged the rebels to make commitments to speed up talks.

"Of course I value that gesture ... but I don't consider it sufficient," Santos said at a public event in Colombia. "What we want in this country is to end this conflict as soon as possible. And how do we end it? By accelerating the negotiations."

On May 22, the FARC lifted a unilateral cease-fire that had been in place since December, after government troops bombed a guerrilla camp.

Since then, at least 22 members of the security forces and 14 rebels have been killed.

Government and FARC negotiators have been holding peace talks in a western Havana convention center since late 2012.

So far, agreements have been reached on three of the six agenda points. Discussions currently center on reparations for victims of the conflict.


Associated Press writers Libardo Cardona and Cesar Garcia in Bogota, Colombia, contributed to this report.

PHOTO: FILE - In this June 7, 2014 file photo, Ivan Marquez, chief negotiator for the Revolutionary Armed Forces of Colombia (FARC), speaks during a news conference at the close of a round of peace talks with Colombia's government in Havana, Cuba. Colombia's largest guerrilla army on Wednesday, July 8, 2015 announced a monthlong, unilateral cease-fire, seeking to ease tensions as it continues long-running peace talks with the government. "We came to Cuba to achieve a peace accord, to put an end to a war that has gone on for more than half a century," said Marquez. (AP Photo/Franklin Reyes, File)
FILE - In this June 7, 2014 file photo, Ivan Marquez, chief negotiator for the Revolutionary Armed Forces of Colombia (FARC), speaks during a news conference at the close of a round of peace talks with Colombia's government in Havana, Cuba. Colombia's largest guerrilla army on Wednesday, July 8, 2015 announced a monthlong, unilateral cease-fire, seeking to ease tensions as it continues long-running peace talks with the government. "We came to Cuba to achieve a peace accord, to put an end to a war that has gone on for more than half a century," said Marquez. (AP Photo/Franklin Reyes, File)

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