Colombian officials, dissident FARC hold meeting with view toward peace talks

Sept 18 (Reuters) - Colombian government representatives have met with members of an armed group that grew out of the demobilized FARC rebels to explore potential peace talks, the two sides said in a statement.

Signed by a United Nations representative, the Norway government as international observers, and a representative of a group of so-called FARC dissidents, the statement showed the members' willingness to hold a bilateral ceasefire.

It added that both parts agreed to sign a confidential protocol to guarantee a meeting of FARC dissident commanders.

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"The two parties express the willingness and need for these dialogues to be set by a bilateral ceasefire, whose execution must be verified," the statement said.

Colombia's President Gustavo 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. read more

Several commanders from the two major dissident groups have been killed in recent months, including across the border in Venezuela.

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Reporting by Carolina Pulice and Julia Symmes; editing by Grant McCool and Diane Craft

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