Colombia’s President Juan Manuel Santos will only sign a peace deal with Marxist rebels by a March deadline if a satisfactory accord has been reached and will extend talks if necessary, he said on Wednesday.
Colombia has been negotiating an end to 50 years of war with the Revolutionary Armed Forces of Colombia (FARC) rebel group since late 2012. The two sides agreed last year to sign a peace deal by March 23, 2016.
“After all this effort, all this time, if we haven’t reached a good deal by the 23rd, I’ll propose to the other side to create another deadline,” Santos said in the southwestern city of Pereira.
“I will not sign a bad deal to meet a deadline,” Santos said, adding talks are in their final stages.
The comments mark the first time Santos has acknowledged the deadline may not be met, though other officials and the FARC have expressed doubts a peace deal could be inked in time.
Negotiators have reached partial agreements on land reform, guerrilla participation in politics, transitional justice, efforts to find missing persons and remove land mines, and an end to illegal drug trafficking.
(Reporting by Julia Symmes; Editing by Alan Crosby)