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Colombia, rebel group agree to joint search for those who vanished during 50-year conflict

FILE - In this Dec. 3, 2014 file photo, Humberto de la Calle, head of Colombia's government peace negotiation team, center, talks with Ivan Marquez, chief negotiator for the Revolutionary Armed Forces of Colombia (FARC), after a joint statement in Havana, Cuba. Declaring that "peace is near," Colombia's President Juan Manuel Santos announced a surprise trip Wednesday, Sept. 23, 2015 to Cuba for a key meeting with government negotiators and the rebels' top military commander as he seeks to wrap up talks to end the country's long-running conflict. (AP Photo/Ramon Espinosa, File)

FILE - In this Dec. 3, 2014 file photo, Humberto de la Calle, head of Colombia's government peace negotiation team, center, talks with Ivan Marquez, chief negotiator for the Revolutionary Armed Forces of Colombia (FARC), after a joint statement in Havana, Cuba. Declaring that "peace is near," Colombia's President Juan Manuel Santos announced a surprise trip Wednesday, Sept. 23, 2015 to Cuba for a key meeting with government negotiators and the rebels' top military commander as he seeks to wrap up talks to end the country's long-running conflict. (AP Photo/Ramon Espinosa, File)

Colombia's government and its biggest rebel movement say they'll work together to locate thousands of people who vanished during more than 50 years of conflict, hoping to advance toward a permanent peace.

Chief Government negotiator Humberto de la Calle said Sunday the agreement aims to ease "the profound pain of relatives of the disappeared" who have lived in permanent uncertainty for years.

Representatives of the government and the Revolutionary Armed Forces of Colombia announced the plan Saturday in Cuba, where they are holding talks on a peace treaty. They have committed to reach a final deal by March.

Both sides agreed to give information on people who died, whether in combat or as victims of kidnappings, force disappearances or massacres.

De la Calle said at a news conference in Bogota that an independent commission would be created to oversee the search for the missing.

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Some 25,000 people have been registered as missing since 1985. An estimated 220,000 have died and 5 million have been displaced from their homes during the conflict as a whole.

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