Although there have been many attempts at negotiations over the course of the conflict, these have always faltered.
In recent years, the tough security policy pursued by President Uribe and Mr Santos, then his defence minister, inflicted a series of significant blows on the rebels.
Several rebel leaders have died and there has been a high number of desertions from guerrilla ranks.
The audacious rescue by the Colombian military of the country's highest-profile hostage, Ingrid Betancourt, and 14 others in 2008 deprived the rebels of one of their biggest bargaining chips for obtaining the release of jailed rebels.
Several hostages were unilaterally released by the Farc in early 2011, prompting speculation that the rebels were increasingly ready for peace talks.
However, the rebels do still operate across large rural areas, where the presence of the state is weak.
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