Colombian President to meet rivals over failed peace deal

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BOGOTA: Colombian President Juan Manuel Santos will meet his predecessor and top rival Alvaro Uribe on Wednesday to discuss salvaging the peace process with the FARC rebels, officials said.

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The high-stakes meeting comes after voters rejected a peace deal Uribe had condemned as too lenient on the leftist guerrillas — throwing the peace process into disarray and giving the former president a major victory.

The political enemies will meet at 11:30 am (1630 GMT) at the presidential palace, Santos’s office said.

Earlier on Tuesday, President Santos had said that the ceasefire with FARC rebels will end on October 31, which provoked FARC chief Rodrigo Londono, better known as Timoleon “Timochenko” Jimenez, to promptly take to Twitter and ask: “And after that, the war continues?” The previous day, he had vowed the guerrillas would continue to observe the ceasefire despite the referendum results.

“I hope we can move forward… to realize the necessary agreement to find a solution to this conflict,” Santos said in a televised address from the presidential palace.

Santos will also meet with former president Andres Pastrana (1998-2002), another major opponent of the peace deal, an hour before Uribe, his office said.

Both meetings will be held behind closed doors.

Santos said on Twitter that he had invited the two former presidents “to dialogue… in a constructive spirit.”

The Colombia conflict has killed more than 260,000 people and left 45,000 missing over half a century, drawing in several leftist guerrilla groups, right-wing paramilitaries and drug gangs.

AFP

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