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Colombia in new peace talks with leftist ELN rebels

Colombia in new peace talks with leftist ELN rebels

Peace talks between the Colombian government and the left-wing ELN rebel group have resumed after more than three years.
The talks in the Venezuelan capital Caracas follow the election of a left-wing president in Colombia, Gustavo Petro, himself an ex-guerrilla.

He came to power in August promising to end nearly 60 years of conflict.

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

The previous Colombian government called off talks in 2019 after the Marxist group bombed a police academy in the capital Bogota, killing 22 cadets.

In 2016 a peace deal was reached with the larger Revolutionary Armed Forces of Colombia (Farc), though some Farc dissidents refused to sign it.

These talks in Caracas are an important milestone for Colombia after so many decades of armed conflict, BBC South America correspondent Katy Watson says.

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.

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, said "human dignity" must be the focus of the peace dialogue, to eliminate the fear of being killed or kidnapped.
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