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At War

Colombia, ELN peace talks to begin Nov.3 in Ecuador

Xinhua News Agency | Mon,2016-10-24

Peace talks between Colombia's government and the country's second largest guerrilla group, the National Liberation Army (ELN), will begin on Nov.3 in Quito, Ecuador, it was announced on Monday.

The first round of negotiations to end five decades of fighting are to be held over a 45-day period at a hacienda being lent by Ecuador's Catholic University, and located southeast of Quito, in Valle de los Chillos.

This first round should help place the two sides on the path to "ending what is the last armed conflict in our Western Hemisphere, " Ecuadoran Foreign Affairs Minister Guillaume Long told reporters at a press conference

The hacienda, called Cashapamba, "meets all of the conditions that talks of this nature require -- security, privacy, comfort --  so that both delegations can feel comfortable to negotiate peace, " said Long.

This Thursday, a ceremony to mark the official installation of the negotiations will take place at an art museum in northern Quito called Capilla del Hombre, or Chapel of Man.

"This is a very symbolic place for us and for the two sides who have agreed to gather there. It symbolizes peace, the peace all of us yearn for," said Long.

The ceremony is to be attended by Colombia's government delegation, headed by the former Minister of agriculture and rural development Juan Camilo Restrepo, and its rebel counterpart, led by commander "Pablo Beltran."

Beltran is the nom de guerre of Israel Ramirez Pineda, according to the daily El Comercio.

Also attending will be delegates from guarantor countries of the talks, Ecuador, Venezuela and Norway, and those accompanying the talks, Chile, Cuba and Brazil.

Ecuador also hosted the first secret talks between Colombian officials and ELN envoys, designed to explore the possibility of a negotiated peace agreement. Subsequent meetings, over a three-year period, took place in Venezuela and Brazil, as well as Ecuador.

Talks with the 1,500-strong ELN force follow a recent peace deal that was signed between Colombia's government and the country' s largest guerrilla group, the Revolutionary Armed Forces of Colombia (FARC).

That agreement was rejected in a referendum, sending both sides back to the negotiating table.