As the end of the Colombian peace process draws increasingly near, the United States representative at the talks, Bernard Aronson, has increased his discussions with the negotiating parties, Semana magazine reported Friday.
The U.S. government has maintained a regular presence at the peace talks due, in part, to their long history of involvement in the country's conflict between successive governments and the Revolutionary Armed Forces of Colombia.
Aronson has reportedly been holding meetings with representatives from the government of Juan Manuel Santos, including lead negotiator Humberto de la Calle, as well as the rebel group.
Semana reported that the meetings lasted several hours each.
U.S. President Barack Obama will visit Cuba, site of the peace talks, at the end of the month. Although Obama is not expected to meet with negotiators, rumors suggest that Secretary of State John Kerry will hold direct meetings with negotiators.
The FARC and the Colombian government had set March 23 as the self-imposed deadline for a final peace deal, though it is widely expected that the deadline will not be met.
Observers of the peace process, however, believe that Aronson is pressuring negotiators to announce a bilateral cease-fire during Obama's visit to Cuba on March 21 and 22.
The U.S. government has declared its support for the Colombian peace process, pledging to reallocate funds previously used for counter-insurgency efforts into a new program called Peace Colombia.
The United States is also holding FARC leader Simon Trinidad prisoner in a “supermax” prison in Florence, Colorado.
The FARC named Trinidad as a negotiator and have repeatedly stated that a peace deal is contingent on the release of the FARC leader.
The U.S. has not suggested that it would be willing to release Trinidad, though Colombian President Santos has said it would be a boost to the peace process.
Colombian Senator Ivan Cepeda, an important advocate of peace in the country, met with Trinidad in January. Though details of the discussion were not revealed, the meeting — unusual for prisoners detained in supermax prisons — sparked rumors that his release was being seriously negotiated.