.- The Bishops' Conference of Colombia announced its support on Aug. 28 for new peace talks between the government and the Marxist rebel group FARC.
In a statement signed by the president of the bishops' conference, Archbishop Ruben Salazar of Bogota praised the announcement by Colombian President Juan Manuel Santos that “exploratory talks” with the FARC “to seek an end to the conflict” would soon be held.
“Colombians can be fully confident that the government is working with prudence, seriousness and determination and is always prioritizing the well-being and tranquility of all the inhabitants of our country,” President Santos said.
He noted that the efforts to reach out to the FARC have taken place with three goals in mind: “to learn from the mistakes of the past in order to not repeat them, to maintain the presence and operations of the military in every square inch of the country, and to achieve an end to the conflict, not to prolong it.”
The announcement marks the first time in a decade that the Colombian government will sit down for formal talks with the FARC. The television network Telesur reported that the talks will be held in Oslo on Oct. 5.
President Santos said the National Liberation Army has also been invited to participate in the peace talks, after its leaders expressed interest to international reporters.
In their statement, the bishops said they “welcome with joy and hope the announcement by the president of exploratory talks with insurgent forces in order to establish the foundations for a peace process that will lead us, with God’s help, to ending the armed conflict.”
“We offer our full support for this government initiative,” the bishops added. They also expressed their “willingness to contribute to the search for peace” and to create “a climate of forgiveness of reconciliation among all Colombians.”