Kerry urges to redouble efforts in talks with Colombia, FARC

US Secretary of State John Kerry encourages Colombian government and FARC rebels to redouble efforts to reach peace deal in Havana talks

Photo by: AP
Photo by: AP

In this photo released by the office of Colombia's Peace Commissioner, US Secretary of State John Kerry, second from left, meet with Colombia's Peace Commissioner Sergio Jaramillo, in Havana, Monday, March 21, 2016.

The US Secretary of State, John Kerry, talked with negotiators from the Colombian government and the Marxist Revolutionary Armed Forces of Colombia (FARC) rebels, separately, in Havana on Monday, urging them to “redouble efforts” to reach a final peace deal.

Kerry is in Cuba for US President Barack Obama’s historic visit to the country and “reiterated to both sides that the United States strongly supports the peace process," State Department spokesman Mark Toner said.

The Colombian government and FARC rebels have been holding peace talks since November 2012, in Cuba. Last year, they put the deadline for a final peace deal for March 23, but negotiators said that a deal by that date looks unlikely, at the moment. 

"Secretary Kerry urged the parties to redouble their efforts to resolve these difficult issues that are necessary to conclude a final agreement," Toner said.

Lead government negotiator, Humberto de la Calle, told journalists that the meeting between the government and Kerry was "very productive."

"There were extraordinarily concrete elements," de la Calle said. "For example, the announcement of help from the United States relating to the security of people who lay down arms, which is a critical subject at the talks."

The FARC negotiating chief, Ivan Marquez, tweeted that a "historic meeting" took place between the insurgency and Kerry.

"On a not-distant date we will give good news to the country and the world - that Colombia has reached peace," the rebel group said on its website.

Since 1997, the FARC has been seen as a foreign terrorist organisation by Washington.

Some 220,000 people died and over five million people have been displaced in Latin America’s longest war, since 1964.

The goal of the peace negotiations is to turn FARC from a rebel group into a political party, ending the conflict.

Hostilities have almost entirely stopped under the FARC's unilateral ceasefire, although a smaller rebel group, the National Liberation Army (ELN), has not joined the peace process and continues periodic attacks.

TRTWorld and agencies