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FARC calls for launching agrarian reform in Colombia

HAVANA, March 21 (Xinhua) -- The Revolutionary Armed Forces of Colombia (FARC) rebels on Friday urged the government to start agrarian reform, a key issue for their ongoing peace talks.

"The FARC reaffirms its position that it is urgent to begin the structural reforms of the countryside, and calls on the national government to heed the voice of rural communities and their demands," said FARC representative Victoria Sandino.

Sandino is taking part in the lastest round of peace talks between the rebels and the Colombian government here in the Cuban capital.

Reading from a prepared statement, Sandino said, "if the government does not demonstrate in a clear way its willingness to change, it will undermine the confidence in the peace process of a country suffering the consequences of war."

Agrarian reform, including rural development and land redistribution, was the first among the key issues on the negotiation agenda hashed out by the government and the rebels.

The two sides have reached a basic agreement on the issue before moving on to the next, which is the FARC's transition into a political party or movement after laying down arms.

The current round of talks will focus on the rebels' ties to drug trafficking. Still pending are reparations for the victims of the fighting and disarmament.

The Colombia conflict, the longest civil war in Latin America, has claimed the lives of 220,000 people and displaced another 4 million.

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