BOGOTA, Oct. 29 (Xinhua) -- U.S. President Barack Obama said on Monday he hoped Colombia's leftist guerrillas would give up arms and turn to politics to bring about change in the country.
Obama's message was delivered in an interview over Colombia's W Radio about the start of peace talks on Oct. 18 between the Revolutionary Armed Forces of Colombia (FARC) guerrilla group and the Colombian government trying to end some 50 years of fighting.
"My hope is that we can create a peaceful Colombia and that the FARC will lay down their arms and recognize that, even though they disagree with the government, they should take part in the political process instead of resorting to violence," Obama said.
His statement marked the first time the president has referred to the peace process, which was set to continue on Nov. 15 in the Cuban capital of Havana.
The United States has "worked closely with Colombia's government for many years to bring peace," he said, adding there had been "significant progress."
The five-point agenda for the peace talks includes land reform and development, compensation for victims of the five-decade-long conflict, and the FARC's future integration into Colombian politics.
Asked about drug trafficking, Obama said it was not a problem exclusive to Colombia and that regional countries should unite to combat the problem.
The president acknowledged the huge demand for illegal drugs in the United States and said that if reelected, he would work to decrease the consumption.