US envoy to join efforts to save Colombia peace

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Washington, (AFP): The United States’ special envoy for the Colombian peace process is heading to Havana to help salvage a deal to end the country’s civil war after voters rejected it.

US Secretary of State John Kerry called President Juan Manuel Santos on Wednesday to reaffirm US support for Colombia’s four-year-old peace process.

During the call, he said special envoy Bernie Aronson is en route to Cuba, where Colombian negotiators are meeting with the Revolutionary Armed Forces of Colombia (FARC).

“The secretary voiced his support for President Santos’ call for unity of effort in an inclusive dialogue as the next step towards achieving a just and lasting peace,” State Department spokesman John Kirby said.

On Sunday, Colombians narrowly voted against a deal that former president Alvaro Uribe had condemned as too lenient on the leftist guerrillas.

The surprise referendum threw peace process into disarray and gave the former president a major victory.

But Kirby said Washington stands by the peace plan, and that Kerry “welcomed the statements by Senator Alvaro Uribe and FARC leader Rodrigo Londono reaffirming their commitment to peace and openness to dialogue.”

The vote left Santos fighting on two fronts: he must find a compromise solution acceptable to both the hardliners in Uribe’s camp and the FARC.

The government’s chief negotiator, Humberto de la Calle, has returned to Havana, where the peace talks were held, to see whether the FARC is open to revising the deal.

 

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