Colombian Government Suspends Peace Talks After FARC Kidnaps Army General
Colombian President Juan Manuel Santos has suspended peace talks with the country's largest rebel group after a general and two other people were kidnapped Sunday.
General Ruben Alzate was seized after arriving by boat in a rural part of western Colombia to inspect a civilian energy project. Another military official and a civilian lawyer were also abducted. A soldier piloting the boat managed to escape and inform authorities.
The general reportedly broke protocol by traveling to the area in a civilian capacity and without bodyguards.
Negotiators for the Colombian government were preparing to fly to Havana, Cuba Monday to take part in a new round of negotiations with members of the Revolutionary Armed Forces of Colombia, or FARC, but Mr. Santos canceled the trip hours after the kidnappings. The slow-moving negotiations have gone on for two years.
Mr. Santos said troops have been sent into the area to search for the hostages, and he has contacted the International Red Cross to help secure their release.
China, Australia Sign Free Trade Deal
China and Australia have signed a declaration of intent on a landmark free trade deal after about a decade of negotiations.
Australian Prime Minister Tony Abbot and visiting Chinese President Xi Jinping witnessed the signing ceremony Monday at parliament in the capital, Canberra.
Under the pact, China is expected to open up markets to Australian farm exporters and the services sector, while easing restrictions on Chinese investment in Australia. All tariffs on Australian resources will be scrapped, along with duties on beef and sheep exports. The trade deal will also make it easier for Australian banks, insurance companies and universities to do business in China.
Prior to the signing, President Xi told the Australian parliament that his goal is to double China's national income by 2020 and create a modern socialist country. He said Beijing is dedicated to upholding peace. He received a standing ovation at the end of his address.
Critics of the free trade agreement believe it could raise food prices for Australian consumers.