Statement by Secretary Kerry on Colombia’s Peace Process (September 23)

September 23, 2015

Colombia Peace Process

I am very pleased to see that the Colombian government and the Revolutionary Armed Forces of Colombia (FARC) have reached major breakthroughs on the outstanding issues in the peace process negotiations:  transitional justice, disarmament, and a timetable for signing a final agreement.

The announcements made today at the peace talks in Havana represent historic progress toward a final peace agreement to end more than 50 years of armed conflict.  Peace is now ever closer for the Colombian people and millions of conflict victims.

We applaud President Santos and his negotiating team for their efforts to reach a just and lasting peace with the FARC.  We are hopeful the parties will soon conclude a final agreement to end this terrible war.  The Colombian people deserve a just and durable peace, and this will be their victory.

I have called President Santos to congratulate him and his negotiating team for their courage and commitment to the peace talks under extraordinarily difficult conditions.  The President and I have met on several occasions since the talks began, and we speak regularly by phone.  I have also met twice with Colombian government negotiators.

Last December, in Bogota, President Santos asked whether the United States would support this process by appointing a Special Envoy.  President Obama and I agreed, so we appointed former Assistant Secretary of State Bernard Aronson, who has been deeply involved every step of the way, including in the most recent round in Cuba last week.  He will continue to stay closely engaged in this process.

I also must express my deep appreciation to Pope Francis for his moral leadership and the Vatican’s good offices in the quest for peace in Colombia.  We also underline the important roles played by Norway and Cuba as guarantors of the peace process.

U.S. support for Colombia dates back more than 15 years to Plan Colombia, a bipartisan initiative carried forward and sustained by Presidents and Congresses of both parties.  I consistently supported Colombia as a United States Senator.  However, Colombia’s success in waging war and now in waging peace is a testament to its leaders, civil society, and democratic institutions, including its armed forces and police.  Today we salute all Colombians and urge the parties to finish their negotiations and construct the peace and prosperity Colombians richly deserve.  We will continue to support President Santos and the Colombian people as these negotiations move forward.