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Colombian rebel leader shies away from meeting 6-month deadline for signing peace deal

In this Wednesday, Sept. 23, 2015 photo, Cuba's President Raul Castro, center, encourages Colombian President Juan Manuel Santos, left, and Commander the Revolutionary Armed Forces of Colombia or FARC, Timoleon Jimenez to shake hands, in Havana, Cuba. In a joint statement, Santos and the FARC said they have overcome the last significant obstacle to a peace deal by settling on a formula to compensate victims and punish belligerents for human rights abuses. (AP Photo/Desmond Boylan)

In this Wednesday, Sept. 23, 2015 photo, Cuba's President Raul Castro, center, encourages Colombian President Juan Manuel Santos, left, and Commander the Revolutionary Armed Forces of Colombia or FARC, Timoleon Jimenez to shake hands, in Havana, Cuba. In a joint statement, Santos and the FARC said they have overcome the last significant obstacle to a peace deal by settling on a formula to compensate victims and punish belligerents for human rights abuses. (AP Photo/Desmond Boylan)  (The Associated Press)

The leader of the Revolutionary Armed Forces of Colombia is shying away from a six-month deadline to sign an agreement to end a half-century of fighting.

In an interview being broadcast Tuesday by Venezuelan network Telesur, the rebel known as Timochenko says negotiators may take more or less time to reach a deal despite assurances by President Juan Manuel Santos that an accord would be ready by March.

The interview from Cuba is Timochenko's first since peace talks began three years ago and comes a week after a breakthrough in talks resolving the thorny issue of punishment for war crimes.

In excerpts of the interview Timochenko says not a single guerrilla is opposed to a deal despite speculation some of the FARC's 6,500 fighters could defy orders to disarm.