Tuesday, 24 April, 2018

United Nations chief to visit Colombia to shore up peace

Pablo Beltran of the National Liberation Army reads a statement at the end of peace talks with the Colombian government in Quito United Nations chief to visit Colombia to shore up peace
Patty Aguilar | 13 January, 2018, 09:58

Global leaders, the Catholic Church and the head of the former Revolutionary Armed Forces of Colombia, or FARC, which until recently was the nation's largest guerrilla group, are all urging government and ELN negotiators to resume talks.

The members of the Security Council regretted today's attacks by the National Liberation Army (ELN) and hoped that the Government of Colombia and ELN would resume work to agree a renewal and strengthening of the ceasefire in order to prevent a return to conflict and protect the humanitarian gains achieved over the past three months.

A call that Colombian President Juan Manuel Santos made in early September to his United States counterpart Donald Trump to show solidarity with the victims of Hurricane Harvey in Texas ended in a tense conversation between the two leaders. The Security Council reiterated its support for the peace process in Colombia, welcomed Guterres' trip and praised commitment of the government and FARC to the peace agreement.

"Inexplicably, the ELN not only refused, but they reinitiated terrorist attacks this morning", Santos said in a short televised address, according to AP.

In November, a month and a half after the conversation revealed on Tuesday, Trump threatened to "decertify" Colombia if the country failed to control the increase in illicit crops: the latest report on illicit crops revealed that coca cultivation increased 52 percent, while cocaine production 34 percent.

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"We were always willing to extend the ceasefire with that organization and negotiate a new one", he added.

"I would like to assure you that the government is not walking away from peace", Colombian Vice President Oscar Naranjo told the council. "I think that our government has demonstrated to the entire world that we, in particular our president, are proponents and champions of peace".

After the bombings, the President of Colombia Juan Manuel Santos ordered the negotiating team that was in Quito trying to move ahead with a new ceasefire to return to Bogotá and reassess the situation.

As for the FARC, Arnault said the U.N.is concerned about the reintegration of its 14,000 former combatants into Colombia's economy and social fabric.

Bell added that the government's willingness to reach a new cease-fire agreement requires demonstration of "unequivocal acts of peace". The secretary-general is scheduled to travel to Meta, in central Colombia, to visit a site set up to help FARC rebels reintegrate.

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