Colombian government, Segunda Marquetalia armed group begin peace talks

By Vivian Sequera and Deisy Buitrago

CARACAS (Reuters) - The Colombian government and the Segunda Marquetalia armed group began peace talks on Monday, part of President Gustavo Petro's efforts to end 60 years of war in his country.

Segunda Marquetalia is a dissident faction of the now-demobilized Revolutionary Armed Forces of Colombia (FARC) rebels whose leaders initially agreed to a 2016 peace deal, but returned to arms citing unfulfilled promises three years later.

The initial round of talks in Caracas, Venezuela, will last through June 29.

The Segunda Marquetalia has already had the experience of a peace deal not being correctly implemented, the head of its negotiating team Walter Mendoza said, referring to the 2016 FARC deal.

"Overcoming this situation is in the hands of the state and all its institutions and in particular of the current government," Mendoza said.

The head of the government's negotiating team Armando Novoa told Reuters earlier this month that Colombia hopes to sign and begin to implement a peace deal with the 1,751-member Segunda Marquetalia before Petro leaves office in just over two years.

"We cannot begin from zero, it would be a historic error," Novoa said in his opening remarks.

Novoa has said he hopes that the talks will move more quickly because some of Segunda Marquetalia's leadership participated in the FARC talks.

Petro's efforts to stop the conflict, which has killed at least 450,000 people, have faced significant setbacks.

The government is holding separate talks with National Liberation Army rebels - though there have been repeated moments of crisis between the two sides, - and the Estado Mayor Central armed group, a former FARC faction that never signed the 2016 deal and a majority of whose units have rejected dialogue.

Segunda Marquetalia leader Luciano Marin, better known by his nom de guerre Ivan Marquez, said the group was willing to contribute to a joint goal of peace in Colombia.

Marquez was thought killed last year, but the Colombian government confirmed in May that a video showing him was real.

(This story has been refiled to fix the spelling of Armando Novoa's surname in paragraphs 7 and 8)

(Reporting by Vivian Sequera and Deisy Buitrago; Writing by Julia Symmes Cobb; Editing by Marguerita Choy)