Colombia peace talks with leftist ELN rebels make progresson December 4, 2022 at 12:53 am

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Both sides reach a first point of agreement in bid to end almost 60 years of war, the president says.

Colombian President Gustavo Petro speaks at a press conferenceImage source, EPA

Peace talks between Colombia’s government and the ELN rebel group have reached a first point of agreement, the country’s president has said.

President Gustavo Petro made the remarks during a visit to the province of Western Antioquia.

Both sides have agreed that indigenous people displaced by the conflict should be guaranteed safe return to their lands in the province, he said.

The conflict in Colombia has lasted nearly 60 years.

The left-wing National Liberation Army (ELN) is the last rebel group still active in the war, and no ceasefire has been reached yet.

Last month, talks between the two sides resumed after more than three years following the election of Mr Petro – the country’s first left-wing president, himself an ex-guerrilla.

Mr Petro, also a former member of the M-19 rebel group, took office in August promising to bring “total peace” to Colombia.

These talks held in the Venezuelan capital of Caracas are an important milestone for Colombia, aimed at ending the lengthy civil war.

Previous negotiations with the ELN as part of the historic 2016 peace deal with the larger Revolutionary Armed Forces of Colombia (Farc) rebel group failed.

The ELN has about 2,500 members and the group is accused of getting funds through drug trafficking and illegal mining.

Along with Venezuela, Cuba and Norway have agreed to act as co-sponsors of the peace process.

Speaking at the time of the talks resuming, ELN delegation head Pablo Beltrán said: “We cannot see each other as enemies, the task we have is reconciliation.”

Colombia’s High Commissioner for Peace, Danilo Rueda, previously said “human dignity” must be the focus of the peace dialogue, to eliminate the fear of being killed or kidnapped.

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