Colombian government representatives have met with members of an armed group that grew out of the demobilised FARC rebels, photos tweeted by President Gustavo Petro have shown.
Petro, who took office in August, has promised to seek “total peace” by fully implementing a 2016 peace deal with the Revolutionary Armed Forces of Colombia (FARC), and talking to so-called dissidents who reject the accord as well as criminal gangs.
On his Twitter account, Petro published two photos on Sunday that appeared to show peace commissioner Danilo Rueda meeting with dissident commanders, captioned with “a dialogue has begun”.
Comienza un dialogo. pic.twitter.com/dwDeGulOo2
— Gustavo Petro (@petrogustavo) September 18, 2022
Petro, a former member of the M-19 armed group, did not give further details and the government did not immediately respond to a request for comment.
Banners in the background of the photos showed the name of the Jorge Suarez Briceno Front, a faction of the FARC.
Several commanders from the two major dissident groups have been killed in recent months, including across the border in Venezuela.
Earlier this month at least seven police officers were killed in an explosives attack in western Colombia, the deadliest attack on security forces since Petro took office promising to end the country’s nearly 60-year conflict.
Police sources said the officers were killed when the vehicle in which they were travelling was hit by explosives. So-called dissidents from the FARC rebel movement are known to operate in the area, according to security sources.
Petro has pledged to seek “total peace” by restarting talks with National Liberation Army (ELN) rebels, applying a 2016 peace accord to former FARC fighters who reject it, and negotiating the surrender of criminal gangs in exchange for reduced sentences.
His predecessor, the conservative Ivan Duque, had broken off peace talks with the ELN following a 2019 car bomb attack on a police academy in Bogota that left 22 people dead.
Dissident groups have rejected the peace accord negotiated by their former leadership and count some 2,400 fighters in their ranks, according to the government.
Several well-known dissident commanders have been killed recently, many in fighting across the border in Venezuela.
Colombia’s conflict between the government, left-wing rebels, right-wing paramilitaries and drug-trafficking gangs killed at least 450,000 people between 1985 and 2018 alone.