Today’s announcement regarding the “end of conflict” in Colombia is welcome news to the people of that country and to all who desire peace. I congratulate President Santos and his negotiating partners for this milestone in their ongoing effort to conclude a conflict with the Revolutionary Armed Forces of Colombia (FARC) that has plagued their nation for 52 years, the longest running war in our hemisphere.
I am pleased that, after more than four years of intensive talks, the Colombian government and the FARC have achieved breakthroughs on some of the most challenging issues before them. Although hard work remains to be done, the finish line is approaching and nearer now than it has ever been. President Santos deserves credit for his courage, leadership, and unwavering commitment to peace.
I also want to recognize the hard work of the negotiating teams and the constructive role played by the governments of Norway and Cuba, who have served as guarantors of the peace process. Thanks are due, as well, to U.S. Special Envoy, Bernie Aronson, for his tireless efforts in support of a settlement.
For many years and on a bipartisan basis, the United States has supported Colombia in its efforts to strengthen its democracy and safeguard the security of its people. That friendship will continue as Colombia’s leaders strive to complete the peace process and take steps to recover from the many years of division and conflict.
To this end, the United States will work closely with Colombia to ensure that commitments made during the negotiations yield tangible benefits for the country’s citizens. In February, President Obama announced Paz Colombia, a new strategic framework for our bilateral engagement. As part of that plan, the President asked me to lead a Global Demining Initiative for Colombia, together with our partner Norway.
I look forward to fulfilling that important and life-saving commitment. Today, I congratulate all Colombians and ask the U.S. Congress and the international community to join in supporting the people of that nation as they continue to make progress towards a just and lasting peace.