The Colombian government and the National Liberation Army (ELN) will resume peace talks next week in Cuba, with which they intend to reach a bilateral ceasefire agreement to end an armed conflict of more than half a century, the parties said on Saturday.
The decision by the government of President Juan Manuel Santos and the ELN, the largest active guerrilla group in Colombia, was made after April 18 when Ecuador suspended its facilitation in the process. The country has been the seat of peace negotiations since February last year.
Quito suspended its role as facilitator after two Ecuadorean journalists and their driver were killed by a group of ex-rebels of the Revolutionary Armed Forces of Colombia (FARC), who demobilized and deposed the weapons under a peace agreement negotiated in Havana for four years.
"After jointly examining the options for resuming dialogue as quickly as possible, we decided to continue the fifth cycle in the city of Havana (Cuba) from next week," the two sides said in a joint statement.
In addition to Cuba, the Colombian government and the ELN have analyzed the possibility of transferring the negotiation headquarters to Brazil, Chile, Norway or Venezuela, which together with Ecuador serve as a guarantee for the negotiation with which it is intended to be completely closed an armed conflict of more than half a century that left 220,000 dead.
Although the ELN, which has some 1,500 fighters and is considered a terrorist organization by the United States and the European Union, has reduced its hostilities in recent weeks, currently fights as a criminal gang in the northeast of the country and is accused of some kidnappings and an oil pipeline.
After the peace agreement signed in 2016 with the Farc, Santos promoted the dialogue with the ELN in an attempt to completely end the internal confrontations in the country. The ELN, accused of funding through kidnappings, extortion, drug trafficking and illegal mining, sought peace in the past with other governments in attempts that failed because of their radical positions.
(With inputs from Reuters)