EU to halt sanctions against Colombia's FARC: sources

Brussels (AFP) - The EU is preparing to suspend sanctions against Colombia's FARC rebel group as soon as it signs a historic peace deal with the government later Monday, European sources said.

The guerilla movement will however remain on the 28-nation European Union's list of terrorist organisations following the signing in the city of Cartagena at 2200 GMT, the sources said.

"We are preparing the suspension. As soon as the treaty is signed the sanctions will be suspended, though FARC will stay for the time being on the EU terror list," one diplomatic source told AFP on condition of anonymity.

The EU needs the approval of all 28 member states to suspend sanctions.

Slovakia, which currently holds the EU's rotating presidency, is withholding its official approval for "symbolic" reasons until the moment the deal is signed, in agreement with the other 27 EU states, European sources said.

Colombian President Juan Manuel Santos and the leader of the FARC rebels, Timoleon "Timochenko" Jimenez, will sign the pact in the coastal colonial city to end five decades of war.

"The EU has strongly supported the peace agreement in Colombia," European Commission spokeswoman Maja Kocijancic told a news briefing on Monday.

The sanctions will be suspended for an initial period six months, after which they will be reviewed, the diplomatic source said.

"It could be possible to delist FARC completely at a later point," the source said.

The EU ambassador to Colombia, Ana Paula Zacarias, said on Sunday that the guerrilla group could be definitively removed from the blacklist after a six-month review process in which the bloc could have "political dialogue with guerrilla members".

The FARC, a Marxist guerrilla group, launched its war on the Colombian government in 1964.

It was added to the EU list of terrorist organisations in 2002. The list was created after the September 11 terrorist attack in New York in 2001.

After the FARC was added to the list, the EU froze the funding and financial assets of the group.