The New York Stock Exchange chairman delivered an unusual sales pitch to the leftist guerrilla commander: Make peace and expect economic benefits from global investors.
"We are very aggressive in trying to pursue international markets and opportunities," NYSE Chairman Richard Grasso said in an interview Saturday night at his Bogota hotel. Grasso met earlier in the day with Raul Reyes, head of the international commission of the Revolutionary Armed Forces of Colombia, to discuss the promise of capitalism.
The trip was arranged by the government of Colombian President Andres Pastrana, who has been vigorously seeking international support for a peace initiative with rebels that has yet to show significant progress. Formal peace talks begin July 7.
Grasso said he stressed the support of the world financial community for the peace process and tried to make Reyes appreciate "the opportunities capital markets will present to Colombia when a peace is achieved."
He said he also invited Reyes to visit Wall Street, though getting Reyes there could be difficult because the guerrilla group is on the State Department's list of terrorist groups.
Grasso said his visit was "in the spirit of a private sector exchange" and he hoped it would "mark the beginning of a new relationship."