Guterres was in Bogota on Saturday to throw his weight behind the peace deal between Colombia and FARC rebels, calling peace the solution to poverty in the South American nation.

Colombia's President Juan Manuel Santos and UN Secretary General Antonio Guterres shake hands outside the presidential palace in Bogota, Colombia on January 13, 2018.
Colombia's President Juan Manuel Santos and UN Secretary General Antonio Guterres shake hands outside the presidential palace in Bogota, Colombia on January 13, 2018. ( Reuters )

The UN Secretary-General Antonio Guterres on Saturday expressed his full support for the peace process in Colombia after he arrived for on a two-day trip to the South American country.

“I want to reaffirm here the full commitment of the United Nations in supporting the Colombian government in this project of enormous importance, to build peace but at the same time to build an inclusive democracy, capable of ensuring that the entire national territory benefits from development,” Antonio Guterres told a press conference in the Colombian capital Bogota.

The UN  chief’s remarks came minutes after he met with Colombian President Juan Manuel Santos during his first official meeting in the county to support peace efforts. 

President Santos reiterated his government’s determination on the peace process.

“It is a process, we are the first to recognise the challenges that we are facing, the most important has to do with the issue of security in rural areas, which suffered so long in the armed conflict,” Santos said.

“As I always say, peace is like a cathedral and must be built brick by brick,” he added.

Journalist Dimitri O'Donnell joins TRT World from the capital Bogota.

Colombia's peace efforts

Colombia reached an historic peace agreement in 2016 with the country's biggest guerrilla group, Revolutionary Armed Forces of Colombia (FARC) to end Latin America's longest-running conflict.

More than 11,000 fighters and collaborators from the FARC handed over their weapons last year as part of the accord. The group's leaders say it will now move forward as a peaceful political party.

President Juan Manuel Santos is now turning his attentions to peace talks with Marxist ELN rebels. 

The ELN and the government have been in negotiations in Quito for nearly a year, after a long and secret exploratory phase, in a bid to end more than 53 years of war. 

However, talks with the ELN were strained after an indigenous leader in Choco province who was taken by the group died in October.

According to reports, peace in Colombia could boost GDP and foreign investment in the resource-rich nation.

TRT World's Kerry Alexandra has more. 

UN willing to send more aid for Venezuelans in Colombia

Colombia's peace process comes as neighbouring Venezuela grapples with political tensions, food shortages and spiralling crime. 

Guterres announced the United Nations is willing to send more resources to Colombia to help the Andean nation care for hundreds of thousands of Venezuelans that have fled.

“I want to manifest all the support of the United Nations to the government and people of Colombia in this humanitarian effort, the reception of all these people, and say that we are even willing to mobilize other international help as is possible,” Guterres said after meeting with President Juan Manuel Santos, ministers and security officials.

There has long been diplomatic tension between the neighbouring governments. Santos has accused Venezuelan President Nicolas Maduro of destroying democracy in Venezuela, while Maduro has said Colombia is part of an international conspiracy seeking to overthrow his government.

Source: TRTWorld and agencies