UN names delegate to Colombia peace talks
UN Secretary General Ban Ki-moon appointed a mediation expert Thursday as his representative to peace talks between leftist guerrilla fighters and the Colombian government.
Jean Arnault, who helped oversee implementation of the Guatemala peace process in the 1990s, will serve as delegate to the "Sub-Commission on End of Conflict Issues within the Colombian Peace Process," according to a UN statement.
The appointment followed a July 12 request by the two sides for a UN delegate and a representative from the Union of South American Nations to help start discussions on monitoring the end of the half-century conflict.
The request was part of a major de-escalation deal, with the Colombian government agreeing for the first time to reduce anti-rebel operations.
The move followed an announcement by the rebels -- the Revolutionary Armed Forces of Colombia (FARC) -- of a one-month unilateral ceasefire starting July 20, a significant step in stop-start peace talks that began in November 2012 in Havana.
Colombian President Juan Manuel Santos welcomed Arnault's appointment, saying he was "ready to participate in the new round of negotiations that will begin in Havana next week."
Separately, Santos also suggested the creation of a legislative commission to ratify a potential peace deal.
The two sides disagree on how to greenlight a possible agreement, with Santos telling local radio station RCN that the legislative commission would be created by Congress.
Colombia's civil strife has killed more than 220,000 people and uprooted as many as six million.
© 2015 AFP