Colombian president wants rebels taken off terror list

BOGOTA - Colombian President Juan Manuel Santos said he wants the U.S. to suspend drug warrants against guerrilla commanders and remove the Revolutionary Armed Forces of Colombia from a list of terrorist groups to help cinch a peace deal with Latin America's oldest leftist insurgency.

See Full Article

Santos' remarks in an interview with The Associated Press come days before he travels to meet with President Barack Obama at the White House to celebrate 15 years and more than $10 billion in U.S. counterinsurgency and anti-narcotic aid to its closest South American ally.

The high-profile meeting underscores Colombia's historic moment: three-year-old peace talks between the Santos government and the FARC guerrillas are nearing conclusion, with a final deal to end a half-century of bloodshed expected as early as March.

Santos said that when the deal is inked, it would be appropriate for the Obama administration to remove the FARC from a list it's been on for almost two decades alongside such groups as al-Qaida and the Islamic State.

"If they sign it's because we have a timetable for their disarmament and they have committed themselves to lay down their arms and make this transition to legal life. So I would say yes, I hope that they would be eliminated from the terror list," Santos said in the interview Thursday at the presidential palace.

When pressed about how soon after the accord is inked should the FARC be removed from the U.S. list, Santos said the "the shorter the better." A Colombian paramilitary umbrella group had to wait six years after it completely disarmed to be removed.

In the same vein, he said he would like to see the U.S. follow his lead in Colombia and suspend arrest warrants against the FARC's top leadership. U.S. prosecutors in a 2006 indictment accused 50 FARC leaders of supplying half of the world's cocaine, claims that Santos said were exaggerated and in any case out of sync with commitments made at the negotiating table to abandon its involvement in the drug trade and help the government jointly eradicate cocaine crops.

"Any effort by the United States to allow us to apply transitional justice, for example by suspending the arrest warrants, would help us tremendously," he said. "But let's be very clear: if they don't behave, they'll be extradited."

U.S. officials have long insisted that only prosecutors can suspend the warrants.

Justice Department spokesman Peter Carr declined to comment on Santos' statements.

Santos, a former defence and finance minister and the scion of the family that founded Colombia's largest newspaper, described Colombia's evolution from near failed state when Plan Colombia began under President Bill Clinton to one of world's fastest growing emerging markets last year with a level of conflict-related violence unseen for decades.

As the country has stabilized, U.S. aid has steadily declined from almost $1 billion a year to about a third of that now. He said with a peace deal, demands on spending will surge as Colombia attempts to build roads, schools and extend the state's reach to what he described as nearly half of the country that has traditionally been forsaken and unproductive economically.

He said he hopes U.S. aid to Colombia, which traditionally has had the support of both Republicans and Democrats, can rise again and plans to discuss future funding with Obama.

"I don't have a magic figure, to tell you this is going to cost x or y, but what we hope is that the United States understands that the peace process is like the cherry on the cake," said Santos, who plans to meet with Republican leaders in Congress during his visit to Washington.

"Colombia is at a tipping point," he said. "If we receive the help that we need, because we are in a difficult situation financially as is all of Latin America, we can take advantage of this new situation."



Advertisements

Latest Canada & World News

  • 100 people feared buried in China landslide

    World News CBC News
    A county government in southwestern China says around 100 people from 40 homes are feared buried by a landslide that crashed into their homes. The government of Mao county in Sichuan province says the landslide from a mountain fell onto the village of Xinmo at about 6 a.m. Source
  • Wainwright-based military member charged with child porn offences

    Canada News Toronto Sun
    A Wainwright-based soldier is charged with child pornography related offences after a joint investigation by the province’s Internet Child Exploitation unit and the U.S. Homeland Security Investigations. It’s alleged the man attempted to arrange to meet up with a Texas girl for sex, says a Friday news release from the Alberta Law Enforcement Response Teams. Source
  • Syrian doctor barred from U.S. under travel ban resettles in Toronto

    Canada News CTV News
    A respected Syrian doctor blocked from re-entering the United States to continue his Ivy League education after U.S. President Donald Trump’s travel ban has found a new home in Canada. Khaled Almilaji arrived in Toronto last Friday and was reunited with his wife, Jehan Mouhsen. Source
  • Michigan terror attack planned?

    Canada News Toronto Sun
    The Montreal man accused of trying to kill an airport cop in the U.S. did so on a highly symbolic day for Muslims, TVA reports. The network reports that Wednesday — the day Amor Ftouhi allegedly almost killed the officer at an airport in Flint, Michigan — was Laylat Al-Qadr or “night of fate. Source
  • Hockey hothead, 18, jailed for punching ref

    Canada News Toronto Sun
    Cole Trevor Crane’s hockey horizons have been put on ice. The Dave Schultz wannabe has been jailed for 30 days after pleading guilty to pummeling a referee during a PEI midget AA hockey game on March 26. Source
  • Heavy rains prompt evacuations in Ontario town

    Canada News CTV News
    WATERLOO, Ont. - Heavy rain in the Waterloo, Ont., area has prompted some evacuations and at least one community has declared a state of emergency. The town of Minto, northwest of Kitchener, declared an emergency Friday morning and moved up to 30 families from their homes and closed some roads and streets in the community. Source
  • U.S. senators ask military to clarify role in Yemen torture

    World News CBC News
    Pressure mounted on the U.S. Defence Department Friday after multiple senators called for investigations into reports that U.S. military interrogators worked with forces from the United Arab Emirates who are accused of torturing detainees in Yemen. Source
  • Mulcair unimpressed by Canadian sniper's record kill

    Canada News Toronto Sun
    NDP leader Tom Mulcair is targeting the Liberals after it emerged a Canadian sniper smashed the world record for the longest confirmed kill. The gunman took an ISIS fighter off the board in northern Iraq with a shot that travelled more than 3.5 kilometres to hit its target — more than a kilometre better than the previous top shot. Source
  • Black off-duty St. Louis police officer shot by white officer

    World News CTV News
    St. Louis police say a black off-duty officer who heard a commotion near his home and tried to help fellow officers arrest three black suspects has been shot by a white officer who did not recognize him. Source
  • Footing the bill: Yukon willing to swap free trip for human toes

    Canada News CTV News
    Tourism Yukon has started a strange (but they insist, very real) search for donated human toes. The macabre contest comes after a brown, mummified toe served in a famous cocktail in Dawson City went missing. Source