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DC Takes Havana: Kerry Meets Colombian Marxists, Obama Greets Cuban Communists

Secretary of State John Kerry will meet with with Colombian Marxist rebels and Colombian government officials in Havana Monday before the two groups end their peace negotiations March 23.

Kerry joined President Barack Obama on his trip to meet Cuban President Raul Castro in Havana. It is unclear if Kerry will meet with Colombian FARC — Revolutionary Armed Forces of Colombia — rebel negotiators and their Colombian government counterparts at the same time or separately, according to Colombia Reports. Obama stated during his press conference with Castro that he was “optimistic” that Colombians could “achieve a lasting peace.”

Colombian rebels and government officials are negotiating in Cuba as it is trusted by both sides as a neutral territory that can be an honest broker for peace talks. The two groups have been in Havana since November 2012.

During the trip to Cuba, FARC rebels and Colombian government negotiators will also reportedly watch a baseball game Tuesday between the Cuban national team and the Tampa Bay Rays. As the March 23 negotiating deadline approaches, there are doubts on both sides that a deal will be reached. There are talks of extending negotiations.

If a peace deal is reached, it would bring an end to an over 51-year conflict between the Colombian government and the Marxist rebel movement. The conflict is the longest-lasting in the Western Hemisphere.

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