Colombia will begin peace talks with the National Liberation Army (ELN), the country’s second-largest rebel group, that, if successful, would end the Latin American country’s five-decade-long conflict with the armed Marxist guerrilla movement.
ELN leaders and representatives of the Colombian government made the announcement in the Venezuelan capital, Caracas, where the two sides had been holding informal talks. Official talks will start in Ecuador, and will then move to Brazil, Chile, and Cuba, El Colombiano, the Colombian newspaper, reported. It’s unclear when the talks will actually begin.
“From the start of my time in office, I have said that we have to put an end to this conflict, and if the ELN joins in with these efforts, then we’ll have a more stable and lasting peace, which is what all Colombians want,” Colombian President Juan Manuel Santos said on national television.
These will be the first formal negotiations between the two sides, and the announcement came nearly two weeks after ELN released two hostages. The announcement also included six points of discussion, among them how guerrillas would surrender their weapons, and “guarantees to exercise political action,” El Tiempo, the Venezuelan newspaper, reported.