This week, Colombia will open its third round of peace negotiations with the ELN (National Liberation Army) terrorist group. The talks are expected to last until early September and will coincide with the forthcoming historic visit by Pope Francis.
Juan Camilo Restrepo, Colombia’s Chief Negotiator, declared his openness to discussing a peace agreement with the ELN. However he made negotiations conditional upon the cessation of civilian attacks from the ELN, to include kidnapping, child recruitment, anti-personnel mines and oil pipeline sabotage.
The government’s first formal negotiations were carried out with the ELN in February, and along the second round of negotiations, they established the logistics of the process, including the creation of two organisms. The first will be used to promote the reintegration of ELN fighters into society, and the second to de-escalate the conflict in a humanitarian way.
Restrepo indicated that the government aims to achieve a peace accord before the arrival of Pope Francis, and to present it to him as a sign of gratitude for his support of the peace process in Colombia.