- - Monday, November 19, 2012

THE HAGUE — The International Court of Justice ruled Monday that a group of tiny islands in the western Caribbean belong to Colombia, rejecting Nicaragua’s claim in a long-running territorial dispute between the two Latin American nations.

Nicaragua first went to the world court, the U.N.’s highest judicial organ, in 2001 arguing that Colombia had no legal claim to the islands.

The Netherlands-based court partially rejected that argument in 2007, saying a 1928 treaty between the two countries established that Colombia owned the islands of San Andres, Providencia and Santa Catalina.

On Monday, the judges ruled that other islands in the region also belong to Colombia. They also will set the maritime borders based on Colombia’s ownership of the islands.

International Court of Justice rulings are final and legally binding.

COLOMBIA

FARC rebels announce cease-fire before peace talks

HAVANA — The top negotiator for Colombia’s main rebel group announced a unilateral cease-fire on Monday before heading into much-anticipated peace talks with his government counterparts at a convention center in the Cuban capital of Havana.

Ivan Marquez said the Revolutionary Armed Forces of Colombia, or FARC, would stop all military operations and acts of sabotage against government and private property starting at midnight Monday and running through Jan. 20.

Mr. Marquez said the move was “aimed at strengthening the climate of understanding necessary for the parties to start a dialogue.”

The rebel overture puts pressure on the government of Colombian President Enrique Santos, who has refused to consider a cease-fire during the talks.

There was no immediate response from Mr. Santos‘ government following the announcement, and Colombian negotiators in Havana also refused to comment.

Cuba is playing host to the talks after an initial round of discussions in Oslo, Norway, last month.

FARC has been at war with the Colombian government for nearly half a century. There is no deadline for agreement, though both sides say success must come within months, not years.

MEXICO

Prosecutor dismisses cops’ shooting explanation

MEXICO CITY — Mexican federal police who ambushed a U.S. Embassy vehicle, wounding two CIA officers, were not investigating a kidnapping in the area, the attorney general’s office said Sunday, contradicting the official police explanation of the shooting.

The CIA officers were heading down a dirt road to a military installation south of Mexico City on Aug. 24 with a Mexican navy captain when a carload of gunmen opened fire on their SUV with diplomatic plates and gave chase. More vehicles joined in the pursuit, and the armored SUV was riddled with bullets.

The two CIA officers, who have not been identified, received injuries that were not life-threatening. The captain was not hurt.

Mexican federal police maintain it was a case of mistaken identity since the officers were investigating a kidnapping of a government official in the area. Police suggested the officers might not have noticed the vehicle’s diplomatic plates and thought they were shooting at criminals.

HONDURAS

Top parties choose presidential candidates

TEGUCIGALPA — Three Honduran political parties chose their candidates for next year’s general elections in primary voting Sunday that heralded the return of ousted former President Manuel Zelaya to politics in his Central American country.

Mr. Zelaya’s wife, Xiomara Castro, is running uncontested as the presidential candidate in 2013 for the leftist Liberty and Refoundation party, or Libre, while the ousted president is seeking to be a congressional candidate.

The National and Liberal parties, which have long dominated Honduran politics, fielded multiple candidates.

Late Sunday, Honduras’ Supreme Electoral Tribunal said preliminary results showed Mauricio Villeda ahead as presidential candidate for the Liberal Party, while the National Party was favoring Juan Orlando Hernandez.

It was unclear when the official final results would be announced.

A mission of 40 Organization of American States observers said the voting process had been “normal.”

From wire dispatches and staff reports