Colombian rebel group frees captured general, 2 others in bid to revitalize peace talks

By Alina Dieste, AFP

BOGOTA, Colombia — Colombia’s leftist FARC guerrillas freed an army general Sunday in a concession to revive peace talks, but the president refused to budge on their calls for a cease-fire. Two weeks after sending the peace process into crisis by capturing Brigadier General Ruben Alzate, their highest-ranking captive in 50 years of conflict, the Revolutionary Armed Forces of Colombia handed him and two other army captives over to the Red Cross in the jungle-covered department of Choco. ��Freed … in perfect condition,�� tweeted President Juan Manuel Santos, who suspended the peace talks on which he has staked his presidency over Alzate’s capture. The move paves the way for the two sides to resume the two-year-old talks in the Cuban capital Havana, the most promising bid yet to end the conflict. But no sooner had Alzate been freed than the FARC and Santos were at loggerheads again over the issue of a cease-fire. Santos has repeatedly refused to consider a bilateral cease-fire without a peace agreement, on grounds that the rebels would use it to regroup, lengthening the war.

In a statement from Havana, the FARC urged him to reconsider.