Colombian government, ELN guerrillas resume peace talks in Venezuela

"The parties are aware of the deep yearning of the Colombian people, society and the nation to advance in a process of peace and full construction of democracy," the high commissioner for peace, Danilo Rueda, said in a statement.

Former M-19 guerrilla member Otty Patino will lead the government's negotiating team, which will also include the presence of the Colombian Federation of Livestock Farmers (FEDEGAN) Jose Felix Lafourie, who has strongly opposed peace talks with the guerrillas in the past.

On Friday, the Colombian Attorney General's Office announced the suspension of the arrest warrants issued against the ELN peace talks negotiators.

The talks will be held in neighboring Venezuela because the ELN has a strong presence on the borders between the two countries. The government of President Nicolas Maduro has said that it is committed to the peace process in Colombia.

This is the first time that ELN guerrillas have sat down to negotiate with a leftist government led by President Gustavo Petro, after having unsuccessfully held negotiations five times in the past with right-wing governments.

The last meeting between the parties was held on Aug. 1, 2018 in Havana, during the government of Juan Manuel Santos, which failed to reach any agreement. The peace talks were interrupted by former President Duque in January 2019, a day after the group carried out a bombing in a police academy in Bogota that killed 21 police officers and injured 68 more.

Duque said at the time that he was not willing to negotiate with the rebels after they refused to cease attacks against the population and the security forces.

The guerrilla group answered that they would resume peace talks with the next president, Petro, who took office in August, and has started negotiating the disarmament of the ELN and all illegal groups that are active in Colombia to achieve what he has called a “total peace”.

Source: Anadolu Agency