Kerry urges progress on Colombia peace talks
US Secretary of State John Kerry urged the Colombian government and FARC guerrillas Friday to make faster progress in peace talks and said the United States would try to help.
Bogota: US Secretary of State John Kerry urged the Colombian government and FARC guerrillas Friday to make faster progress in peace talks and said the United States would try to help.
The two sides resumed talks this week after a crisis triggered by the leftist rebels` capture of an army general on November 16.
Kerry warned that further delays would only complicate the two-year-old peace process, the most promising effort yet to end the 50-year-old conflict.
"The longer it takes, the harder it will be," he told journalists after meeting with two government peace negotiators and President Juan Manuel Santos during a visit to Colombia.
"Santos specifically said to me that it is important to emphasize the time issue, and the reason is that talks in negotiations like this can go on forever," Kerry said.
"It`s important to accelerate."
He said the Colombian leader has asked the United States -- a vocal supporter of the talks -- for help reaching a timely deal.
"That`s the homework," he said.
"We will very much respond and engage in a constructive way.
"We are doing a lot, but we need to see if we can do more."
Kerry praised Santos`s "courageous example of leadership" in making the talks the central initiative of his administration.
"Santos took the risk of moving in a different direction, and put his leadership on the line to end the killing and make people safer," he said.
Reaching a deal, he added, would "unleash enormous potential in the region."
Santos thanked the United States for its backing and said a deal would be "the golden capstone to a process that has united us all these years, as well as the basis to continue that relationship post-conflict."
The center-right leader won a second four-year term in a June runoff election widely seen as a referendum on the peace process.
However, a poll released Thursday found that 57 percent of Colombians no longer believe the talks will reach a deal.
The Colombian conflict has killed more than 220,000 people and uprooted more than five million since the Revolutionary Armed Forces of Colombia (FARC) was founded in 1964.