The Colombian president and leader of the Revolutionary Armed Forces of Colombia, or FARC, agreed to a bilateral ceasefire pact on June 23, paving the way for a final peace deal that would end the 52-year civil conflict. This war has taken the lives of an estimated 220,000 people and forced nearly seven million Colombians from their homes.
U.S. Secretary of State John Kerry welcomed the news: "I am pleased that, after more than four years of intensive talks, the Colombian government and the FARC have achieved breakthroughs on some of the most challenging issues before them. Although hard work remains to be done, the finish line is approaching and nearer now than it has ever been."
Under the terms of the agreement the rebels will gather in 23 protected zones and eight camps, where they will disarm in phases after a final accord is reached. Colombian government forces will provide security and United Nations observers will be present in the camps to oversee the process and mediate disputes.
For many years and on a bipartisan basis, the United States has supported Colombia in its efforts to strengthen its democracy and safeguard the security of its people. That friendship will continue as Colombia’s leaders strive to complete the peace process and take steps to recover from the many years of division and conflict.
To this end, the United States will work closely with Colombia to ensure that commitments made during the negotiations yield tangible benefits for the country’s citizens. In February, President Obama announced Paz Colombia, a new strategic framework for its bilateral engagement. As part of that plan, the United States along with Norway is leading a Global Demining Initiative for Colombia.
The United States congratulates all Colombians as they take the final steps towards a just and lasting peace.