Colombia to restart peace talks with insurgents ELN
Colombia will consider restarting dialogue with left-wing guerrillas to end the country’s 33-year civil war, the foreign secretary said on Wednesday.
The announcement came a day after Colombian President Juan Manuel Santos spoke to the exiled leader of the Revolutionary Armed Forces of Colombia (Farc) in Bogota.
“We will go step by step with dialogue to resolve the conflict,” Colombian foreign secretary Carlos Holmes said.
Santos and Farc leader Rodrigo Londono have met twice since a peace deal that was signed in 2012 was broken by the guerrillas two years later.
They have failed to meet in recent months.
“I believe this is the most concrete thing to do to resolve the conflict in Colombia,” Santos said in an interview with the local television channel TeleSur on Wednesday afternoon.
“Now that the two parties are in touch again, we will go step by step with dialogue to resolve the conflict,” he added.
The Colombian government has ruled out a political deal with the rebels as President Santos has rejected the guerrillas’ participation in a peace deal.
But Londono had previously said a political deal was not out of the question.
“(We are) willing and open to dialogue”, Londono said in August when he was speaking to the Colombian Institute for Peace (ICP).
Colombia’s armed conflict began in late 1964 when right-wing rebels overthrew the government of the then-president, who had been elected on a promise to reform the country’s troubled society.
Farc guerrillas, who took up arms as students, were given US$2m in aid by the government and launched an armed uprising with the aim of liberating territory from the state.
During the eight-year conflict the guerrillas conducted more than 5,800 attacks on Colombian military and police installations, civilian authorities and civilian homes, killing more than 2,300 people.