Colombia and ELN rebels to restart peace talks

BOGOTA, Colombia (AP) — Delegates from the Colombian government and the country’s largest remaining guerrilla group met on Tuesday and announced they would resume peace talks suspended in 2018.

After meeting in the Venezuelan capital, representatives of the Colombian government and the National Liberation Army issued a statement indicating that a date for the peace talks would be announced after the first week of November. The statement also adds that Norway, Venezuela and…

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BOGOTA, Colombia (AP) — Delegates from the Colombian government and the country’s largest remaining guerrilla group met on Tuesday and announced they would resume peace talks suspended in 2018.

After meeting in the Venezuelan capital, representatives of the Colombian government and the National Liberation Army issued a statement indicating that a date for the peace talks would be announced after the first week of November. The statement also added that Norway, Venezuela and Cuba would be “guarantor states” in the talks, and that the participation of civil society groups would be “essential” for the peace talks to succeed.

The location of the talks has not yet been announced, although ELN commander Antonio Garcia has suggested that different stages of the talks could be held in Cuba, Norway and Venezuela.

The ELN was founded in the 1960s by students, union leaders and priests who were inspired by the Cuban revolution. The group is believed to have around 4,000 fighters in Colombia and is also present in Venezuela where it operates illegal gold mines and drug trafficking routes.

Following a 2016 peace accord between the Colombian government and the Revolutionary Armed Forces of Colombia, the ELN became the country’s largest remaining guerrilla group. Since then, it has increased its activities in territories that were previously under the control of the FARC. The group is known for organizing kidnappings and attacks on oil infrastructure and has been listed as a terrorist organization by the United States and the European Union.

Recently elected Colombian President Gustavo Petro has promised to reach peace agreements with the ELN and several other armed groups in Colombia. He has moved away from the strategy of the previous government, which suspended talks with the ELN after the rebels refused to stop attacking military targets.

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