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Bill Clinton, Blair back Colombia peace efforts

02 july 2014, 13:09
0
Former British Prime Minister Tony Blair speaks next to Colombian President Juan Manuel Santos  and U.S. former president Bill Clinton.  ©AFP
Former British Prime Minister Tony Blair speaks next to Colombian President Juan Manuel Santos and U.S. former president Bill Clinton. ©AFP

Former world leaders Bill Clinton and Tony Blair attended a special summit in Colombia in support of the country's bid to forge peace with FARC rebels, AFP reports.

The one-day meeting in the Caribbean resort city of Cartagena was the initiative of Colombian President Juan Manuel Santos, who is spearheading peace talks with the Marxist Revolutionary Armed Forces of Colombia (FARC), Latin America's longest-running insurgency.

Several other ex-leaders were also at the summit.

Clinton, who served as US president 1993-2001, warned: "You will never get to the final reconciliation of your country if you don't finish this peace process."

But Clinton added that the signing of any peace agreement with the FARC would have to be viewed as just the beginning of the process, rather than the end, and there could be no peace without reconciliation.

"There will always be specific things that you would still have to work out over the years ahead," he said.

Blair talked of a "third way" -- "a peace process that is motivated by the heart but governed by the head, and what it means in this case... what you have been doing... is to be very tough on issues of security."

But peace "means genuinely giving up on violence and a genuine embracing of peace," he cautioned.

Santos was re-elected last month in a cliffhanger vote that was seen as a referendum on peace talks with the FARC.

His opponent, the more conservative Oscar Ivan Zuluaga, had called for stricter conditions as a pre-requisite to any deal with the rebels.

Talks in Havana with the FARC that began in November 2012 have resulted in agreements on three topics of a six-point agenda.

But at least three major issues remain unresolved: the surrender of weapons, compensation for victims and how a final agreement would be ratified.


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