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Colombia to resume peace talks with ELN

Handout picture released by the Colombian Presidency showing President Juan Manuel Santos greeting a UN representative who is part of the Tripartite Mechanism for Monitoring and Verifying the Cessation of Fire and Bilateral and Definitive Hostilities and Detachment of Weapons during his visit to one of the camps monitored and verified by the UN that will receive the members of the FARC guerrilla before laying down their arms after the peace agreement signed with the Colombian government in November that seeks to overcome half a century of armed conflict, in Mesetas, department of Meta, Colombia on January 5, 2017. The FARC's 5,700 fighters are currently gathering near 26 zones where they are due to demobilize over a period of six months in transition to be reintegrated into society. The UN has sent 280 monitors to oversee the process, a contingent set to eventually number 450. JUAN DAVID TENA / PRESIDENCIA DE COLOMBIA / AFP

Handout picture released by the Colombian Presidency showing President Juan Manuel Santos greeting a UN representative who is part of the Tripartite Mechanism for Monitoring and Verifying the Cessation of Fire and Bilateral and Definitive Hostilities and Detachment of Weapons during his visit to one of the camps monitored and verified by the UN that will receive the members of the FARC guerrilla before laying down their arms after the peace agreement signed with the Colombian government in November that seeks to overcome half a century of armed conflict, in Mesetas, department of Meta, Colombia on January 5, 2017. The FARC’s 5,700 fighters are currently gathering near 26 zones where they are due to demobilize over a period of six months in transition to be reintegrated into society. The UN has sent 280 monitors to oversee the process, a contingent set to eventually number 450.<br />JUAN DAVID TENA / PRESIDENCIA DE COLOMBIA / AFP

Peace talks between Colombia and the ELN rebels will resume next week after the group asked to postpone them in November, the government said Sunday.

Negotiations with the leftist National Liberation Army (ELN) have stalled even as the government begins implementing a peace deal with the larger Revolutionary Armed Forces of Colombia (FARC).

“The resumption of talks to fix the date for installing the public roundtable will take place next Thursday, January 12 in Quito, Ecuador,” the government’s chief negotiator with the ELN, Juan Camilo Restrepo, said in a statement from Bogota.

He will head a special commission that will meet with ELN representatives to “seek formulas of understanding that will lead to the start of a public roundtable for talks,” the statement added.

The government of President Juan Manuel Santos — who won this year’s Nobel Peace Prize — was scheduled to launch open talks with the ELN in October after secret negotiations began almost three years ago in Quito.

But the talks broke down before they could start after the rebels failed to release an ex-congressman they took hostage in April. The ELN — whose fighters the government estimates at 1,500 — also demanded the government pardon two guerrillas.

The government said in late November that the rebels had asked for closed-door consultations set to begin next week over launching open talks.

Colombia is seeking an agreement with the ELN to achieve “complete peace” after sealing its historic deal with the FARC in November to end five decades of conflict.

Founded in 1964, the ELN is the last leftist guerrilla group involved in messy, multi-sided violence that has killed more than 260,000 people.




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