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article imageColombia, ELN rebels resume talks

By Santiago PIEDRA SILVA con Alina DIESTE en Bogotá (AFP)     May 16, 2017 in World

Colombia and the left-wing National Liberation Army insurgency resumed talks Tuesday aimed at reducing everyday violence on the road to a peace deal.

The two sides got back to talks in Ecuador's capital looking to end a half century of conflict as the larger FARC is doing. In November, the FARC signed a peace deal with the Colombian government after four years of talks.

Now, the ELN as it is known in Spanish returned to the table with representatives of Colombian President Juan Manuel Santos, at the invitation of outgoing President Rafael Correa. The first round took place in February.

"I hope that we will be able to reach agreement on a bilateral ceasefire coming our of these discussions -- from the beginning and not at the end," said Pablo Beltran, the nom de guerre of the ELN's peace negotiator, on his way in.

The government also voiced commitment to de-escalation.

The Colombian conflict erupted in 1964 when the FARC and ELN took up arms for rural land rights.

It drew in various rebel and paramilitary forces and drug gangs as well as state forces.

The conflict has left at least 260,000 people dead and displaced more than seven million, according to the authorities.

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