Leader of Colombia's FARC rebels invites ex-president to meet

BOGOTA: The leader of Colombia's FARC rebels group invited ex-president Alvaro Uribe, a vocal critic of the guerillas' peace process with the current government, to meet with him in an open letter on Saturday, in a bid to bolster the peace talks.

Revolutionary Armed Forces of Colombia (FARC) leader Rodrigo Londono, better known by his nom de guerre Timochenko, said he would meet Uribe in Havana, Cuba, where the negotiations are being held, or in another location to discuss "the future of our nation."

Uribe, president from 2002 to 2010 and now an opposition senator, has vehemently objected to the peace process, which he says will usher terrorists into government without justice for victims.

Uribe, whose government dealt heavy blows to the FARC with support from the United States, recently called for a "civil resistance" to the partial accords reached so far at the talks with the government of President Juan Manuel Santos, once his protégé.

"It is not fair to conclude with so much ease that accords reached without your presence constitute a betrayal of the country," Londono said in the letter, published on the FARC's website. "Nor should you continue to stoke rancor and revenge in the minds of a large portion of Colombians."

The letter comes two days after the FARC and the government announced a deal on a series of legal mechanisms meant to ensure any peace deal will be constitutionally binding if approved by Colombians in a proposed referendum.

Colombia's five-decade-long conflict has killed more that 220,000 people and displaced millions.

Uribe has not yet responded to the letter.