SECRETARY-GENERAL, EXPRESSING REGRET AT BREAKDOWN
NEW YORK, 21 February (UN Headquarters) -- The following statement was issued today by the Office of the Spokesman for Secretary-General Kofi Annan:
The Secretary-General deeply regrets the breakdown of peace talks between the Government of Colombia and the Revolutionary Armed Forces of Colombia (FARC). He recognizes the extraordinary efforts President Andres Pastrana has made over the last four years in the search for peace.
There had been advances in the peace talks in the last month. But continued FARC attacks and their hijacking of a civilian airliner yesterday, during which a member of Congress was kidnapped, are clear violations of international humanitarian law and have undermined the peace talks. The FARC’s repeated violations of international humanitarian law and the kidnapping of thousands of Colombians and others, including children, are unacceptable. The Secretary-General calls on the FARC to release all those kidnapped, including former Governor Alan Jara, who was seized at gunpoint from a UN vehicle.
The Secretary-General urgently calls on all armed actors to respect international humanitarian law and the lives of civilians by ending all forms of violence against Colombians. He urges that special measures be taken to protect civilians in the former demilitarized zone that is today being reoccupied by the Colombian military. The tolerance and rapid growth of paramilitaries are cause of great concern, and require that the Government take urgent and effective measures to address this problem.
The Secretary-General reiterates his conviction that Colombia’s 40-year conflict will only be resolved by a negotiated solution that addresses its deeply rooted social and political causes. His good offices remain at the disposal of the parties, if so requested.
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