Colombia’s Santos, rival Uribe willing to work on peace deal

BOGOTA (Reuters) – Colombian President Juan Manuel Santos and opposition rival Alvaro Uribe met yesterday in a bid to resolve differences over a peace deal with Marxist FARC rebels that was rejected in a shock vote this week, leaving the country in limbo.

 Alvaro Uribe
Alvaro Uribe

The two expressed willingness to seek an end to the 52-year war that has killed more than 220,000 people and displaced millions more.

Sunday’s surprise referendum result, which confounded pollsters and was a political disaster for Santos, plunged the country into uncertainty over the future of the Revolu-tionary Armed Forces of Colombia (FARC) rebels, who had been expected to disarm once the deal was passed by voters.

After more than three hours of talks, former President Uribe emphasized the need for “adjustments and proposals that should be introduced…to seek a new peace deal that will include all Colombians.”

Without giving any concrete proposals, Uribe, 64, said Santos had shown he was disposed to changes.

Uribe, a former lawyer and cattle rancher, opposed Santos’ peace talks from the start and said the final deal, which was reached in August after four years of painstaking negotiations in Havana, gave too many concessions to the rebels.

He spearheaded the “no” campaign, urging Colombians not to approve the accord, which would have given the FARC guaranteed congressional seats and immunity from traditional jail sentences. “No” carried the day by less than half a percentage point.

“We identified that many of their worries come from points that need clarification or precisions. Today we began to work with them to firm up those points and resolve their doubts,” Santos said in a brief statement.

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