Hosting President Juan Manuel Santos at the White House, Obama yesterday said that as the country's 50-year conflict with leftist FARC guerrillas winds down it was time to rethink "Plan Colombia."

A March 23 deadline has been set for the peace talks to conclude, designed to bring to an end a conflict which has killed more than 220,000 people and displaced six million.

Over the last decade and a half, Plan Colombia caused billions of dollars' worth of military aid to flow to Colombia's security services, fortifying the state against well-armed and well-funded drug cartels and rebel groups, chief among them the FARC.

Hailed in Washington as a bipartisan success story, Plan Colombia was launched by President Bill Clinton and continued by his Republican successor George W Bush.

But the policy has also been fiercely criticized inside Colombia and by rights groups, who say it made internecine conflict bloodier and left a trail of abuses.

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