US names envoy to Colombia peace talks
The United States on Friday named a special envoy to the Colombia peace talks in a bid to help nudge along negotiations to end one of the world`s longest running conflicts.
Washington: The United States on Friday named a special envoy to the Colombia peace talks in a bid to help nudge along negotiations to end one of the world`s longest running conflicts.
Talks between the leftist Revolutionary Armed Forces of Colombia (FARC) rebels and the Bogota government are seeking to end a half-century old insurgency.
Top US diplomat John Kerry told reporters Washington had agreed to a request by Colombian President Juan Manuel Santos to "take a more direct role" in the negotiations which resumed earlier this month in Havana.
Talks, which began in November 2012, have so far failed to resolve key issues including disarmament and how any agreement should be ratified.
Kerry named veteran Latin America diplomat Bernie Aronson to the post -- paying tribute to his past work in helping resolve conflicts in El Salvador and Nicaragua.
Praising Santos`s "courageous" bid to launch negotiations, Kerry said that "despite Colombia`s remarkable story and all it has achieved as a nation, the country has continued to suffer the tragic effects of one the longest wars on the planet."
The conflict "has lasted half a century and has left millions of Colombians dead, wounded or displaced," Kerry said.
"We know that if the parties were able to reach an agreement, if they could finally bring peace to a country that has seen war for decades now... this would unleash enormous potential for the Colombian people and it would have an impact throughout Latin America and perhaps even beyond."
US President Barack Obama had concluded that "while significant obstacles remain, a negotiated peace in Colombia is absolutely worth pursuing and absolutely worth assisting if we are able to."
So far, the two sides have agreed on three of the six points of the agenda to end the conflict, which is estimated to have claimed the lives of more than 220,000 people.
Coming out of retirement to take the post, Aronson, a former assistant secretary of state for Inter-American affairs, said he would not take a seat at the negotiating table, but "we can push, prod, cajole and clarify and help wherever we can."
Despite "substantial progress," Aronson said the "hard, knotty issues had been left to the end... Now the parties must resolve them, because windows for peace as all of us know, can close without warning. And sometimes they never re-open."