The US ambassador to Colombia on Wednesday said that the US government is optimistic about the ongoing peace talks between the Colombian government and the country’s main rebel group FARC.
Peter Michael McKinley, who has been the US ambassador to Colombia since August 2010 and leaves the post on Saturday, was speaking in an interview with Caracol radio.
“I’m optimistic, and so is the government of the United States. This is the chance to end this conflict once and for all,” he said.
“The important thing in a peace process is that the relevant parties sit down at the negotiating table. That is where we are now and we have to let the negotiators do their job,” added the ambassador.
Asked about whether the visits of Barack Obama and John Kerry have changed the image of Colombia abroad, he emphasized that it was Colombia itself “that has redefined its image.”
“Colombia has shaken off the idea that it’s a failed state, in which drug-trafficking and insecurity rules”, he said, pointing to the fact that more and more tourists are coming to Colombia, and more and more Colombians who had fled the country are now returning to their homeland.
One sign of Colombia’s new role in the world, highlighted by McKinley, is its provision of security know-how to other countries facing internal conflict: “instead of importing security know-how, Colombia is now exporting it – this is a phenomenal change.”
But he made it clear that the work is not yet done, that Colombia needs to “keep fighting” if it is going to change its image as a dangerous country.
Peace talks between Colombia’s government and rebel group FARC have been ongoing since November. They paused briefly on Friday after the guerrillas asked to examine the government’s proposed referendum over an eventual peace deal, but resumed again on Monday.
While an accord has been reached regarding land reform, no agreements have been made on the issue of the FARC’s political participation, drug trafficking, the practicalities of the end of the armed conflict and the rights of the victims.
- EE.UU. es optimista sobre el proceso de paz en Colombia: McKinley (Caracol Radio)
- Colombian security industry exports its expertise (Financial Times)