Pope urges Colombia’s Santos to continue peace talks

Pope Francis on Monday expressed his support for peace negotiations with the Colombian guerrilla group FARC at a private audience in the Vatican with President Juan Manuel Santos.

The two “discussed the peace process in course and the victims of the conflict and the desire for the parties involved to continue negotiations was expressed,” the Vatican said in a statement.

It called for “a sincere search for the common good and reconciliation”.

Santos was in Rome for the canonisation on Sunday of Laura Montoya, a nun and Colombia’s first saint.

“These past 24 hours have been very important for Colombia, for my government, for me as a president, for me as a person and for my family,” Santos said after the talks.

The FARC — the Revolutionary Armed Forces of Colombia — is the country’s largest leftist guerrilla group, and the insurgency it has waged since 1964 is the oldest in Latin America.

Peace talks, which began on November 19, so far have addressed only the first item on a five-point agenda — land reform.

Land distribution was one of the triggers of the decades-old conflict Colombia, where there is gaping inequality that divides wealthy landowners and poor peasants.

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