White House hopeful on Colombia peace plan

White House hopeful on Colombia peace plan
© Greg Nash

The White House said Monday it stands ready to help Colombia broker a long-awaited peace agreement after voters delivered a shocking blow to the deal over the weekend. 

White House spokesman Josh Earnest said that President Obama is hopeful that the Colombian government and the Revolutionary Army Forces of Colombia (FARC) can push forward despite the narrow defeat of the referendum on Sunday. 

ADVERTISEMENT

“The U.S. thus far has played a constructive role in trying to facilitate that kind of an agreement and the United States stands ready even through our special envoy to try to support all sides as they try to reach an agreement that is consistent with the will and ambition of the Colombian people,” Earnest said during a press conference. 

Colombian President Juan Manuel Santos, FARC leader Rodrigo Londoño and opposition leader Alvaro Uribe on Monday all moved to keep the peace deal live and end the 52-year civil war. 

“We take some satisfaction despite the electoral setback in seeing the renewed commitment from all parties to the pursuit of peace,” Earnest said. 

A cease-fire with the FARC also was expected to remain in place as the leaders take steps forward. 

The president and Santos discussed the developing deal when they met a couple of weeks ago in New York.

“So I know that President Santos and his team are focused on figuring out what they can do at the negotiating table to move this forward,” Earnest said. 

“We’re hopeful they’ll be able to settle on a path that leads to the kind of negotiated settlement and negotiated peace that all of the parties have indicated they would like to see,” he said. 

The United States has a free trade agreement with Colombia that was ratified five years ago. 

Critics of the peace plan had expressed concern that FARC leaders were getting off too easy for years of crimes such as drug trafficking and kidnappings.

John Kirby, State Department spokesman, said Monday that the United States “recognizes that difficult decisions are going to have to be taken in the days ahead.”

“Colombians have expressed their commitment to settle their differences through institutions and dialogue rather than violence,” Kirby said in a statement.