UN Security Council 'unanimously and solidly' behind Colombia peace process

UN Security Council heads to Colombia to back peace accord

UN Security Council heads to Colombia to back peace accord

A member of a U.N. team working on a project in Colombia to substitute illegal crops with legal ones was kidnapped by dissident former FARC rebels who have rejected the peace process, the United Nations and the government said on Thursday. The handing over of weapons and implementing disarmament zones has been a slow and bumpy process.

The abduction coincided with the arrival of a group of UN Security Council ambassadors who are visiting Colombia this week to demonstrate their support for the peace agreement and for the process that is to lead to the FARC's full laying aside of its weapons by June 1.

FARC leader Ivan Marquez said in an interview this week with Red Mas Noticias that if needed, the two sides would extend the May 31 deadline to complete the demobilization process, adding that the rebels won't begin turning over their arms until the government follows through on its commitment to free hundreds of jailed rebels subject to an amnesty.

The government also condemned the kidnapping, which it characterized as "regrettable".

A group of United Nations officials in coordination with Colombian authorities was attempting to negotiate the worker's release.

The government is seeking to switch coca - the raw material for cocaine - to legal crops.

The 15 members of the Security Council were in Bogota and and set to meet privately with Colombian President Manuel Santos and his government, lawmakers and civil society representatives on Thursday morning.

British Ambassador Matthew Rycroft, who is co-leading the visit, said the United Nations would remain in Colombia as long as it takes to secure peace.

Ahead of the flight from NY to Bogota, the 15 members of the Security Council knew it wasn't going to be a standard visit.

While as many as 7,000 fighters agreed to the pact and are now in the process of turning in their weapons to the United Nations, several hundred have refused.

US President Donald Trump is to host President Santos in Washington on May 18 to discuss the implementation of the peace accord as well as efforts to counter "democratic backsliding in Venezuela", according to the White House.

But up to 400 FARC dissidents, who want to continue fighting despite the peace accord, are thought to be active in the area.

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