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Former Colombia leader pans peace talks with rebels


Colombia's former leader Alvaro Uribe had harsh criticism Saturday for current President Juan Manuel Santos's peace overtures to leftist rebels, whom he likened to infamous drug kingpins.

In an interview published Saturday in Chile's El Mercurio daily, Uribe compared the crimes of the Revolutionary Armed Forces of Colombia (FARC) with the worst acts committed by notorious drug lord Pablo Escobar.

Uribe urged his successor to deal more severely with leftist fighters rather than treating them "with impunity."

An incensed Uribe also complained that members of Santos's administration have suggested the FARC might one day become a legitimate political party.

"What reason could there possibly be for giving political eligibility to those who have committed kidnapping, infanticide, murder, drug trafficking and other atrocious crimes?" he told the newspaper.

A conservative hardliner, Uribe sought to destroy the FARC militarily during his 2002-2010 presidency, in which Santos served as defense minister.

Uribe has been actively tweeting his disapproval of peace talks in Havana that he fears give too much legitimacy to the FARC rebels whom he fought relentlessly during his administration.

Earlier this week, Santos accused Uribe of trying to sabotage the peace talks by disclosing on his Twitter account precise locations where rebel leaders were to leave Colombia for Havana under a military safe conduct.

Most political parties and a variety of civic organizations in Colombia support the talks, but Uribe denounced the peace overtures as "legitimizing the terrorism of the FARC."

Santos last year opened peace talks with the FARC, Latin America's oldest and most potent guerrilla movement, founded in 1964.

Pablo Escobar, the most feared and legendary of Colombia's drug lords, headed the notorious Medellin Cartel. He died in a shoot-out with police in 1993.