"Negotiators said the surprise advance came as rebels rushed to demonstrate progress ahead of a visit this week to Cuba by Pope Francis, who during his stay on the communist-led island, warned the two sides that they didn’t have the option of failing in their best chance at peace in decades.

“Without even being present physically in the room, he was a very important presence,” said Douglass Cassel, a University of Notre Dame law professor who represented the government in the talks."

Is it possible to have someone influence peace talks who is not present? Would this be a beneficial practice for other conflicts, that is, to have an important figure weigh in? 


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