Caracas, Oct 4 (EFE).- National Liberation Army (ELN) guerrillas and the Colombian government will resume peace talks next month, according to an agreement the parties signed Tuesday in the Venezuelan capital.
No concrete date was given for the resumption of the talks, which were formally halted by then-President Ivan Duque’s administration after an ELN car-bomb attack on a police academy in Bogota in January 2019 left 22 dead.
The parties are expected to meet at multiple venues, with Venezuela, Cuba and Norway serving as “guarantor states,” but it is unclear where they will gather first.
Colombia’s peace commissioner, Ivan Danilo Rueda – who was present for the signing ceremony Tuesday in Caracas – had announced in August that the necessary steps would be taken to relaunch peace talks with the ELN in Cuba, one of the countries being considered as a venue.
Rueda spoke Tuesday about the importance of transparency in the talks and stressed the need to ensure that points agreed upon at the negotiating table are put into practice.
He also hailed the ELN for deescalating their activities in several areas where they operate and praised the group’s decision to avoid armed confrontations with the Colombian military.
“We’ve also verified their respect for the right to life during these weeks” since President Gustavo Petro, Colombia’s first leftist head of state, took office on Aug. 7.
Speaking on behalf of the guerrilla group, ELN commander Antonio Garcia clarified that the rebels will only respond to what is agreed upon at the negotiating table.
In a joint declaration read at the start of the signing ceremony, the two sides pledged a specific start date for the talks would be announced during the first week of November.
The ELN became the largest remaining leftist guerrilla group in Colombia when the Revolutionary Armed Forces of Colombia (FARC) laid down their weapons in keeping with a 2016 peace deal, whose components included comprehensive rural development, political participation for ex-FARC members and the investigation of war crimes.