Pope applauds Colombia peace deal but sidesteps truth panel

Pope Francis has praised Colombia's peace deal but has declined an invitation to have a Vatican envoy help select judges for the proposed truth and justice commission.

Francis pledged his support for the deal reached between the government and Revolutionary Armed Forces of Colombia to end one of the world's longest-running conflicts.

In a statement, the Vatican said the pope "reiterates his support for the goal of attaining the peace and reconciliation of the entire Colombian people." But it said the job of selecting the judges for the truth commission was best left to others.

The most contentious agreement of the deal would let rebels who confess their crimes avoid jail and instead serve reduced sentences of no more than eight years by helping rebuild communities hit by the conflict.