Colombian leader denies military scaleback

Source:Xinhua Published: 2013-2-12 15:49:33

Colombian President Juan Manuel Santos Monday dismissed allegations that the government was considering scaling back its military presence around the country to foster ongoing peace talks with the Revolutionary Armed Forces of Colombia (FARC).

"I know some concerns have been expressed and some rumors have circulated, as a result of the peace process, that there could be some (troops) withdrawal and that Pradero could be (the site of) that withdrawal," said Santos.

Pradero is a town in southwestern Colombia where the president was presiding over the delivery of government-built housing for the poor.

"I guarantee there will not be even a single withdrawal," he stressed.

Santos has been following a hardline policy in dealing with the FARC, the country's largest rebel group.

The military offensive will continue, said Santos, adding that it is "absolutely certain that one of the reasons we are negotiating with these people in Cuba is precisely because we will not accept withdrawing from even a millimeter of national territory."

At the same time, Santos said he hoped the talks would soon lead to an agreement to end the five decades of fighting.

"If there's a peace deal, and I hope there is, and we will do everything in our power to make that possible, then the payoff would be infinite, and if not, then we will continue anyway to make progress and attain our goals," he said.

The Colombian government and FARC insurgents began peace talks in Havana in November that the government has said should last no more than a year.

In December, the FARC declared a unilateral two-month ceasefire as a goodwill gesture and asked the government to do the same, but officials refused, saying the rebels could use a lull in fighting to regroup and strengthen their movement.

Posted in: Americas

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