MEXICO CITY, Oct. 3 (Xinhua) -- Latin American countries have lamented the outcome of a Colombian referendum that rejected a long-awaited peace agreement to end more than five decades of civil fighting in the country.
After nearly four years of negotiations, the government of President Juan Manuel Santos and the Revolutionary Armed Forces of Colombia (FARC) signed a definitive accord last Monday at a ceremony in Cartagena, Colombia, which was accompanied by United Nations Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon and regional leaders.
Both sides have agreed that the agreement should be ratified by plebiscite, which unexpectedly rejected the deal on Sunday by a close vote of 50.21 percent from the "No" camp and 49.78 percent from the "Yes."
As the result sent the two sides back to the negotiating table again to hammer out terms acceptable to all sectors of society, regional governments and organizations pledged to support the ongoing peace process.
The 12-member Union of South American Nations (Unasur), a sub-regional integration bloc headquartered in Quito, Ecuador, issued a statement following the poll results late Sunday.
"At this decisive moment for Colombia, the Secretary General ... renews its commitment to continue supporting Colombia so that it can achieve peace through dialogue, the preservation of the validity of the Havana Agreements, consensus and understanding," said Unasur, which gathers Argentina, Bolivia, Brazil, Colombia, Chile, Ecuador, Guyana, Paraguay, Peru, Surinam, Uruguay and Venezuela.
Peace talks between the Colombian government and the FARC guerrilla group began in 2012, with host Cuba and Norway serving as guarantors, and Venezuela and Chile accompanying the negotiations.
On Monday, Santos said he will consult with all political parties, especially those who oppose the peace deal, towards a new negotiated agreement.
Venezuelan President Nicolas Maduro, whose country borders Colombia to the west, said on Monday, "peace and war in Colombia affects our country directly," and that his government was ready to continue to support the peace process.
In a message to the Santos government, Maduro said "you can count on all the support of the Bolivarian and Revolutionary Government (of Venezuela) to continue developing peace in Colombia."
In a Twitter post that echoed Santos' and FARC leaders' quick affirmation following the vote, Argentina's Foreign Minister Susana Malcorra said, "the results of the referendum do not signal a return to fighting."
Ecuadorian President Rafael Correa was more circumspect, saying "'No' won in Colombia, but everyone insists they want peace .... Hopefully peace will win in the end."
His Foreign Minister Guillaume Long said the "marginal win by 'NO' saddens us. President Santos ratifies the cease-fire. FARC also. Onwards in seeking the path to peace in Colombia."
Those oppose to the agreement argue it does not go far enough to hold the rebels accountable for their actions during more than five decades of fighting, including kidnapping and aiding drug trafficking, both of which were used to raise funds for the guerrillas.
Peruvian President Pedro Pablo Kuczynski said rejecting the deal plunged the country into uncertainty.
"I think renegotiation will be quite hard," Kuczynski told the state news agency Andina. "The Havana negotiations went on for years and were on the verge of collapse ... it raises a great deal of uncertainty."
Mexico's Foreign Ministry said it hoped Colombia continues to explore "all possible avenues for moving forward in a united way towards a peaceful and prosperous future."
The ministry added that "the Mexican government reaffirms its commitment to support Colombia and President Juan Manuel Santos along this path."
Chilean Foreign Minister Heraldo Munoz echoed that sentiment, saying "Chile is available to accompany this new stage of the peace process, to persist, if Colombians so decide, on the path to peace and help to the best of our ability."
Munoz, whose country was accompanying the peace talks, told reporters in Santiago he had spoken with his Colombian counterpart Maria Angela Holguin, "and we are going to see over the next few hours what is happening.
"Everyone was surprised," Munoz said of the referendum results. "Those of us who were in Cartagena de Indias (for the signing of the peace deal), including the secretary general of the United Nations and several presidents who were there, were told polls showed 'Yes' would win."
He added, "a number of factors could have contributed to the 'No' (vote) and we have to listen to what the Colombians have said."
Talks aimed at restarting the peace process are about to get underway, he said.