Some opposition changes to Colombia peace deal 'inviable': president

October 20, 2016 9:17 PM EDT

Nobel Peace Prize: Colombia's President Juan Manuel Santos won the Nobel Peace Prize for his efforts to end a 52-year-old war with Marxist rebels, a surprise choice and a show of support after Colombians rejected a peace accord. The Norwegian Nobel Commit


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BOGOTA (Reuters) - Several modifications to a peace deal with Colombia's FARC rebels suggested by the country's opposition are "inviable," President Juan Manuel Santos said on Thursday, adding he remains committed to salvaging the accord.

The government will take some opposition suggestions for changes to the accord with the Revolutionary Armed Forces of Colombia, or FARC, to guerrilla leaders, Santos said in a televised address.

The government has been meeting with representatives of the right wing opposition and others who campaigned against the deal in hopes the rebels will accept changes to the accord.

The peace deal was rejected in a surprise plebiscite result this month, shortly before Santos was awarded the Nobel Peace Prize for his efforts to end the country's 52-year war.

Many opposition proposals were "reasonable" Santos said on Thursday, but others are "totally inviable". The deadline for meetings with those against the accord has now passed, he said.

"We're going to work at top speed to achieve a new deal," Santos said. "We have already established mechanisms with the FARC to review (the suggestions) and decide on necessary adjustments."

"We want to finish this soon, very soon."

Opponents of the deal, including former President and current Senator Alvaro Uribe, have argued that transitional justice procedures do not punish the FARC enough for human rights violations like killings and kidnappings and that the rebels should not be granted seats in Congress.

Uribe and his top allies reiterated in an open letter dated Wednesday that they are willing to meet with the FARC, but said the president must make big changes to the deal.

"Is the President open to the profound changes that our popular mandate demands or is he limiting himself to receiving documents via his secretaries in order to pass them on to this illegal armed group," the letter read.

(Reporting by Julia Symmes Cobb; Editing by Lisa Shumaker)



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