Colombian government and ELN will resume peace talks in Quito

nsnbc : Colombian President Juan Manuel Santos and the leadership of Colombia’s leftist National Liberation Army (ELN) announced Monday that the parties will resume peace talks in the Ecuadorian capital Quito.

Ptotest for resumption of peace talks with ELN, Colombia, Mar 2018Peace talks were suspended in January 2018 when the parties failed to reach an agreement on the terms for the extension of a bilateral ceasefire regime established in October 2017. Many independent observers noted that Santos’ as well as the ELN’s hardliner position with regard to the terms for the extension of the ceasefire and the resumption of talks were motivated by the congressional elections.

Many would therefore not be surprised that talks of the resumption of talks came merely one day after the congressional elections. However, Santos said “Thinking about life, saving lives, achieving a complete peace for Colombia, I have decided to resume peace talks with the ELN,” Santos said from the presidential palace. Santos has instructed his administration’s chief negotiator Gustavo Bell and his team to return to Quito to resume the internationally sponsored peace talks there.

The ELN, for its part, issued a statement saying “We join President Santos’ call to restart talks, with the conviction that it is better to have dialogue in the midst of a bilateral ceasefire.” Santos said that dialogue will resume with the purpose of agreeing to a new “comprehensive and verifiable” ceasefire agreement to avoid further casualties. “Since the bilateral ceasefire ended, there have been too many deaths on both sides, too many wounded, too many victims. This is what we must stop,” Santos said.

The ELN leadership blamed the protracted process on the government’s attempt to appease far-right parties and voters in Colombia. “The extreme right-wing violence is not for a political solution to the conflict, it is not ready to change, even a little, so that the Colombian majorities have more dignity, as individuals and as a nation,” the ELN leadership added.

CH/L – nsnbc 13.03.2018

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