Colombian President-elect Petro appoints peace envoy as foreign minister

Colombia’s left-wing president-elect Gustavo Petro named longtime politician and peace envoy Alvaro Leyva as the first member of his future cabinet on Saturday, ahead of Petro’s inauguration in August. Leyva, 79, is well known for his decades of work under multi-party presidents to bring various armed groups, including the M-19 rebels, of which Petro was a member as a youth, to the negotiating table.

He took part in the talks that led to a 2016 peace deal with FARC rebels. “Alvaro Leyva Duran will be our Foreign Minister. He will be Foreign Minister for Peace,” Petro tweeted early Saturday. “Colombia will bring to the world all its efforts to overcome the climate crisis and from the world we expect all efforts to overcome our endemic violence.”

Petro said he wants to shift Colombia’s foreign policy relationship from the war on drugs to the fight against climate change, which will mark a sea change, especially for the Andean country’s partnership with its main ally, United States. The former senator served as energy minister under conservative President Belisario Betancur.

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