“We thank Secretary of State John Kerry and the U.S. government for their support in the peace process,” tweeted Santos.
On Wednesday, President Santos and FARC leader “Timochenko” announced that an agreement on a transitional justice plan in Havana had been met. The agreement will lead to a special tribunal in which FARC guerrillas will testify in front of Colombian and international judges in exchange for immunity from extradition, reportedly with the approval of the US government.
The meeting between the two leaders also resulted in a six-month timetable for a final agreement to be reached after which guerrillas will have 60 days to disarm and enter a governmental transitional justice and reintegration program.
Kerry described Wednesday’s announcement as a “historic progress toward a final peace agreement”. The US secretary of state added that “peace is now ever closer for the Colombian people and millions of conflict victims.”
According to El Espectador, Secretary Kerry congratulated Santos in a phone call for his courage and ability to compromise under such difficult conditions. “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” stated Kerry in a press statement.
Since February a US special envoy has been working to further the peace dealings from Bogota, Washington and Havana. Secretary of State John Kerry appointed former Assistant Secretary of State Bernard Aronson to work with all parties involved to further the peace process.
Aronson has been “deeply involved in every step of the way, including in the most recent round in Cuba last week [and] will continue to stay closely engaged in this process” according to a press statement by Kerry.
Aronson has met with opposition leader and former president Alvaro Uribe with the intention of talking through Uribe’s fierce criticism of the peace process. The envoy also spoke to US Congress to promote support for the Havana talks.
The historic meeting on Wednesday in which Santos and FARC leader Timochenko met for the first time since the process started in 2012 was reportedly also attended by the US special envoy.
The Colombian president is currently in New York to attend the 70th General Assembly of the United Nations. The head of state plans on speaking about the recent advances to bring about the end of the over 50 year old conflict. Santos will also highlight the potential benefits that a peaceful Colombia would bring into the world.
While the first major hurdle of transitional justice has been crossed the topics of rural development, political participation of ex-guerrillas, and finding a solution to the drug trade remain to be discussed in the 6-month time table agreed upon this week.