Alvaro Leyva, a negotiator between the Marxist FARC rebels and the Colombian government announced as new cabinet member

FILE PHOTO: Alvaro Leyva, a negotiator between the Marxist FARC rebels and the government, gestures during an interview with Reuters in Bogota

Colombia’s leftist president-elect Gustavo Petro named long-time politician and peace envoy Alvaro Leyva as the first member of his future cabinet on Saturday, ahead of Petro’s August inauguration.

Leyva, 79, is well-known for his decades of work under presidents from several parties to bring various armed groups, including the M-19 rebels, of which Petro was a member as a young man, to the negotiating table.

He participated in talks that led to a 2016 peace deal with the FARC rebels.

“Alvaro Leyva Duran will be our minister of foreign relations. He will be a foreign minister of peace,” Petro tweeted early on Saturday. “Colombia will contribute to the world all its efforts to overcome the climate crisis and from the world we expect every effort to overcome our endemic violence.”

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