Colombia, ELN rebels to resume peace talks in Mexico in February

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There was a first round of talks last year in Caracas to end the guerrillas’ part in almost six decades of war.

The turn on the cease-fire came after the ELN said that it did not agree with it. The government blamed a misunderstanding of the ELN’s position.

The two sides held an emergency meeting in Caracas this week and agreed to hold a second round of negotiations on February 13 in Mexico, one of the guarantor nations for the talks along with Norway. Venezuela, Cuba and Chile.

“In this cycle, the issue of society’s participation in building peace will be addressed. At the same time, a bilateral ceasefire will begin to be discussed and agreed upon,” said a statement issued after the -emergency meeting.

Colombia and the ELN said that they will jointly examine the progress in the implementation of the agreements reached during the first cycle of talks and agreed to keep the channels of communication open even when they are not on the -negotiation table.

For the ceasefire to work, “you have to agree on the rules of the game and the protocols, and these protocols in turn cover the armed forces and the ELN. This will take time, ” said Pablo Beltran, head of the ELN delegation.

Beltran said he hopes to advance “substantially in the agreement” at the next meeting in Mexico.

The government said the ceasefire is still in place with four other groups: two dissident groups founded by former FARC rebels and the Clan del Golfo and Sierra Nevada Self-Defenses criminal gangs.

President Gustavo Petro, a former member of the urban guerrilla group M-19 and who took office last year, has promised to seek peace agreements or surrender agreements with armed groups of all type.

(Reporting by Mayela Armas in Caracas and Luis Jaime Acosta in Bogota; Additional reporting by Johnny Carvajal; Writing by Anthony Esposito; Editing by David Gregorio)

By Mayela Armas and Luis Jaime Acosta

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