The Latest: Colombia expects more progress in peace talks

AP News
Posted: Jan 18, 2017 11:40 AM
The Latest: Colombia expects more progress in peace talks

DAVOS, Switzerland (AP) — The Latest on the World Economic Forum in Davos, Switzerland (all times local):

5:40 p.m.

Colombia's president says a breakthrough may be imminent toward peace talks between the government and the country's second-largest rebel group, after a long-awaited peace deal with the larger FARC.

Jose Manuel Santos told a crowd of business and political leaders Wednesday that "before you go to bed today you will probably receive from Ecuador some extremely important news" on the efforts to start talks with the ELN, or National Liberation Army. He didn't elaborate.

Representatives from the government and ELN, who have been trying to start negotiations for more than three years, are in Ecuador trying to settle on conditions. Santos wants the ELN to first free a former congressman it has held captive for six months.

The government and the much larger Revolutionary Armed Forces of Columbia, or FARC, signed a historic deal last year that ended 50 years of conflict and earned Santos a Nobel Peace Prize.

Santos, speaking at the World Economic Forum in Davos, Switzerland, said economic opportunities opened by the peace deal are "enormous," saying the "conflict was like a handbrake" on Colombia's development.


1:20 p.m.

Iran's foreign minister says U.S. President-elect Donald Trump "will be surprised" if he tries to renegotiate the hard-won nuclear deal reached by the Obama administration and other world powers with the Islamic Republic.

Mohammad Javad Zarif told a panel at the World Economic Forum in Davos that he's taking a "wait and see" attitude about the Trump administration and "The jury is still... the jury is not even yet convened."

Pressed by The Associated Press afterward on Wednesday, Zarif said it "won't be the end of the world if he (Trump) tries to walk away from the deal."

"He wants to surprise people, so he will be surprised," if he does, Zarif said with a smile, without elaborating.

Zarif also criticized the Obama administration, saying it "did not implement their side of the bargain in a full and complete way" — notably about unspecified difficulties faced by Iranian banks.


11:55 a.m.

Christine Lagarde, managing director of the International Monetary Fund, says that dealing with inequalities will have to be a central element of leaders' response to the concerns of populist movements.

Conceding that there is "no silver bullet response," Lagarde said on a panel at the World Economic Forum that it's time for "courageous" leaders to reconnect with the people.

She said that excessive inequality is "counterproductive" to sustainable growth, but that reversing globalization through more protectionism would be the wrong course. Redistributing wealth will be a central part of any strategy to deal with the inequalities, as will a deep analysis of how new technologies affect jobs.

Lagarde urged leaders not to "be resigned to taking the situation as it is."

Earlier this week, the anti-poverty campaigning group Oxfam said eight men own as much wealth as half the global population.


11:45 a.m.

U.S. Vice President Joe Biden has issued a "call to action" to Europe and the United States to defend the "liberal" world order, decrying a growing impulse in the West toward isolation and to "build walls" — a veiled criticism of plans of incoming President Donald Trump.

In his final major speech in his post, Biden said the greatest threat to the order — "I'll not mince words" — was principally Russia. He accused Moscow of seeking to "whittle away at the edges of the European project" that has brought decades of peace.

Biden acknowledged Wednesday to hundreds of people at the World Economic Forum in Davos that he'll hold his post for only another 48 hours, and quipped: "Then I can start to say what I think."


11:30 a.m.

Lawrence Summers, the former U.S. Treasury Secretary, has warned that Donald Trump's threats to firms using Mexico as a manufacturing base will be counterproductive and could lead to the loss of hundreds of thousands of American jobs.

Summers told a panel at the World Economic Forum that the president-elect's "rhetoric and announced policies" over Mexico have led to a big fall in the value of the Mexican peso against the dollar.

That, he said, is a "dagger at Ohio," as it will make it even more attractive for firms to move to Mexico.

The lesson of history, he added, is that "classic populism is invariably counterproductive for those in whose name it is offered as a policy regime."