Colombian President Juan Manuel Santos instructed the government team that has been holding peace talks in Cuba with FARC guerrillas to return to the Andean nation, issuing the order after the rebels announced a brief "pause" in the negotiations.
"We'll resume the talks when we feel it's the right time," the head of state said Friday at the Catam military airport in Bogota before boarding a flight to the Caribbean archipelago of San Andres.
The Revolutionary Armed Forces of Colombia, or FARC, guerrillas unilaterally interrupted the talks earlier that day, saying they needed time to analyze Santos's proposal that any eventual accord be submitted to a referendum.
Later Friday, however, the insurgents said the pause would be very brief and that they would sit down again with Colombian government negotiators on Monday in Havana, where talks began last November.
"In this process, the ones ordering the pauses and setting the conditions are not the FARC. So I made the decision to call home the negotiators so they come here immediately to evaluate" the situation, Santos said.
The 13th round of the talks - focusing on the issue of the rebels' eventual political participation - kicked off this week.
Santos's administration and the leaders of the parties in Colombia's ruling coalition submitted a bill to Congress Thursday proposing that a referendum on an eventual peace accord be held on the same day as next year's May 25 presidential election in the Andean nation.
Referring to the "pause" announced by the FARC, Santos said Friday that the "Colombian people's patience has a limit."
"We must keep advancing in the talks," the president said in Quibdo, capital of the northwestern province of Choco, where on Friday he attended a congress of Afro-Colombian peoples. EFE