SDLP MP Durkan meets leader of Colombian guerillas

Mark Durkan met the FARC leader during a trip to Cuba
Mark Durkan met the FARC leader during a trip to Cuba

An SDLP MP has met with one of the world’s leading paramilitary figures.

Mark Durkan said that he had visited the leader of the Revolutionary Armed Forces of Colombia (FARC) at the weekend.

He encountered the rebel leader – known by the nickname Timochenko – during a trip to Cuba, which the SDLP billed as a show of “support for a new Colombian peace deal which could see an end to the longest-running conflict in the Americas”.

Guerilla group FARC has been engaged in an armed campaign against the Colombian government since the 1960s.

The BBC has reported that peace talks originally began in Cuba in 2012.

In June last year, Human Rights Watch reported that FARC remained involved in “killings, disappearances, kidnapping, torture, forced displacement, attempted forced recruitment, planting landmines, extortion, and death threats against community leaders”.

The SDLP said Mr Durkan “shared his experiences of negotiating and drafting the 1998 Good Friday Agreement” with those he met in Cuba.

He had been joined by others on the visit, including the Rev Harold Good.