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Santos: Colombia Will Not Cave to Political Pressure to End Peace Talks

FILE - Colombia's President Juan Manuel Santos speaks to the media at the presidential palace in Bogota, April 17, 2015.

Colombia's President Juan Manuel Santos said on Tuesday he will not allow peace talks with FARC rebels to collapse under political pressure from the opposition and renewed calls for the Marxist group to show its commitment to end 50 years of war.

Demands that Santos abandon two-year-old negotiations with the Revolutionary Armed Forces of Colombia (FARC) have mounted after rebels last week broke a unilateral ceasefire, killing 11 soldiers in an ambush.

While the attack prompted Santos to restart halted air raids against FARC camps, the opposition, spearheaded by ex-president Alvaro Uribe, say the rebels have abused the process.

The attack has revived mistrust of rebel intentions at the negotiating table, the government has said.

“We will not allow ourselves to be pressured by those who want, at all costs, to back us against a wall and force us to end the negotiations,” Santos said at a meeting of the national peace commission.

“It's easy to keep talking about war while sitting at a desk or from the trenches of social media,” Santos added, alluding to Uribe, now a senator, and other opposition leaders who have used social media networks such as Twitter to criticize the talks.

Uribe's allies in his right-wing Democratic Center party say FARC will not face proper punishment for human rights abuses and that many fighters will continue criminal activity.

Although the rebel group has said it will not serve prison terms, Santos has ruled out immunity and has said it will be obliged to atone for crimes committed.

“FARC leaders, the ball is in your court, now is the time to demonstrate that peace is also what you dream of,” Santos said.