Colombian President, opposition hold talks on FARC peace deal

Santos' government negotiated the peace deal with FARC to much fanfare, and polls had shown the referendum leading in voter sentiment almost two to one. "It's time everyone understands that we can't keep repeating the same mistakes of the past 52 years".

Colombian President Juan Manuel Santos and opposition rival Alvaro Uribe met yesterday in a bid to resolve differences over a peace deal with Marxist FARC rebels that was rejected in a shock vote this week, leaving the country in limbo.

It is unclear how the Revolutionary Armed Forces of Colombia (FARC) will change their behavior following the end of the ceasefire.

President Juan Manuel Santos has announced that, as the Colombian people voted "no" on a negotiated amnesty deal with the FARC terrorist group, Bogotá will be forced to end its ceasefire with the group at the end of the month. They talked privately for several hours, announcing only they agreed to form a commission that will begin meeting Thursday to evaluate ways to improve the accord.

Santos once served in Uribe's cabinet, but the two have not met since late 2010.

Uribe's right-wing Democratic Center party, which claims that the terms of the deal are too lenient with the militant group, wants jail terms for those FARC rebels who have committed serious crimes and some of the rebel leaders to be banned from politics. But Uribe is pushing for stiffer punishment of the rebels and limits on their future participation in politics.

Political marches are rare in Colombia, a reflection in part of an elite-driven political system that fuelled apathy and left many Colombians marginalised.

"We need peace no matter what it takes", said Jennifer Lopez, a 28-year-old teacher who said a cousin had been kidnapped years ago by the FARC.

Santos spoke to U.S. Secretary of State John Kerry, who reaffirmed U.S. support for efforts seeking peace and said special envoy Bernie Aronson will travel back to Havana, the State Department said on Wednesday.

In the plebiscite held on Sunday, the Colombian people rejected the agreement with a narrow margin.

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