In a joint statement from Cuba yesterday, Santos and the Revolutionary Armed Forces of Colombia said they have overcome the last significant obstacle to a peace deal by settling on a formula to punish belligerents for human rights abuses committed during a half century of bloody, drug-fueled fighting.
    
"We are on different sides but today we advance in the same direction, in the most noble direction a society can take, which is toward peace," said Santos.
    
Rebels that confess abuses to special peace tribunals, compensate victims and promise not to take up arms again will receive a maximum 8 years of labor under unspecified conditions but not prisons.
    
Negotiators said the surprise advance came as rebels rushed to demonstrate progress ahead of a visit this week to Cuba by Pope Francis, who during his stay on the communist-led island warned the two sides that they didn't have the option of failing in their best chance at peace in decades.
    
US Secretary of State John Kerry said he called Santos to congratulate him and his negotiating team.
    
"Peace is now ever closer for the Colombian people and millions of conflict victims," Kerry said in a statement.

 

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