Colombia, Rebels, Seek US Involvement In Peace Talks
Sumaira FH Published November 26, 2022 | 08:40 AM
Caracas, (UrduPoint / Pakistan Point News - 26th Nov, 2022 ) :Colombia's government and the National Liberation Army (ELN), the last recognized rebel group in the country, said Friday they would invite the United States to join their peace process.
The talks are an initiative by President Gustavo Petro, who in August became Colombia's first-ever leftist leader and has vowed a less bellicose approach to ending violence wrought by armed groups, including leftist guerrillas and drug traffickers.
They agreed to reach out to the United States via diplomatic channels "to find out its willingness to participate in the process" and send a special envoy, according to a statement from Norway, one of the guarantors of the talks.
The statement said the talks had taken place in an environment of "trust and optimism." When asked by AFP, the US State Department did not confirm any eventual involvement in the talks by the United States.
"At this point we continue to engage the Petro administration to better understand plans to seek a total peace with the ELN, FARC dissidents, and other criminal organizations," a State Department spokesperson told AFP, referring to the remaining still-armed members of the Revolutionary Armed Forces of Colombia rebel group, which subsequently laid down weapons and created a political party.
"The ELN remains a designated Foreign Terrorist Organization under US law," they added.
It has around 2,500 members, about 700 more than it did when negotiations were last broken off. The group is primarily active in the Pacific region and along the 2,200-kilometer (1,370-mile) border with Venezuela.
Dialogue with the group started in 2016 under ex-president Juan Manuel Santos, who signed a peace treaty with the larger Marxist Revolutionary Armed Forces of Colombia (FARC) rebel group that subsequently abandoned its weapons and created a political party.
Petro, himself a former guerrilla, reached out to the ELN shortly after coming to power, as part of his "total peace" policy.