Can the U.S. Do Anything to Influence the Outcome of These Talks?
During the negotiations, FARC leaders are expected to seek assurances that the Colombian government will not extradite them to the U.S. or other countries where they are wanted on drug trafficking charges.
Adam Isaacson, an expert on Colombia's armed conflict at the Washington Office on Latin America, says that the U.S. can help the peace process to succeed by not pushing for the extradition of FARC leaders, as negotiations take place.
Isaacson said that in previous negotiations between Colombia's government and right-wing paramilitary groups, the U.S. backed off from extradition requests for paramilitary leaders, in order to facilitate negotiations. After those peace accords were signed, and problems with the former paramilitary leaders continued, former President Alvaro Uribe decided to ship most of them to the U.S. anyways.
This time around, as negotiations with the FARC take place in Oslo and Havana, there is little else the U.S. can do but watch and provide statements of support for peace in Colombia.
Isaacson points out that the US is not seen "as an honest broker" by the FARC guerrillas. The rebels are fully aware that this country has spent more than $8 billion in military aid to Colombia over the past decade, under the Plan Colombia anti-narcotics effort.
However, Isaacson said that if a peace agreement is reached, the U.S. could play a fundamental role at keeping the peace, by helping to finance rural development projects, or other reconciliation schemes that emerge from the talks.
He mentioned that when civil wars ended in Guatemala and El Salvador, the U.S. helped to finance reconstruction projects in those countries. "If we help to pay for these wars, we should pay to clean them up as well," Isaacson said.