BOGOTA – The peace delegation of the Colombian government has returned to Cuba to resume negotiations with the Revolutionary Armed Forces of Colombia (FARC) that received a dose of optimism after the U.S. named a special envoy to the peace process.
The peace talks, which began in Havana in December 2012, have received strong backing from the international community over the last few days.
The main show of support came in the form of last Friday’s appointment of veteran diplomat Bernard Aronson by U.S. President Barack Obama to play a role in the talks in Havana, a move which, according to Secretary of State John Kerry, will involve Washington more directly in the process.
The Colombian government’s chief negotiator Humberto de la Calle on Tuesday welcomed the “good news” of Aronson’s appointment.
He explained that although Aronson will not be a part of the negotiating table nor act as a mediator, “his help will really be invaluable.”
“Moreover, it has a huge symbolic effect, it’s a clear display of confidence in the process,” declared De la Calle hours before traveling to Havana to resume negotiations with guerrillas on Wednesday.
Colombian President Juan Manuel Santos, as well as the FARC peace delegation, has also praised Aronson’s appointment.
“I welcome this announcement because it reaffirms U.S. commitment to the peace process, expressed to me by President Obama and the members of his Cabinet on repeated occasions,” said Santos in a statement a few days ago.
Meanwhile, FARC called the naming of the envoy “a necessity, taking into account the permanent presence of and influence the U.S. exerts in Colombia’s political, economic and social life.”
The peace process, which has resulted in agreements on three of the five-point agenda – political participation, land, and drugs and illegal cultivation –, also received support from Germany in the form of a visit to the country by German Foreign Minister Frank-Walter Steinmeier last week.
Meanwhile, former UN secretary-general Kofi Annan, who met Santos on Monday in Bogota, also expressed hope that the decades-long conflict in the country would be resolved and peace achieved in Colombia.