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Colombia's Second Largest Guerrilla Group Agrees to Start Peace Talks

While talks continue with the FARC, Colombia and its smaller rebel force ELN announced Wednesday they will also begin formal peace negotiations.

by Nathaniel Janowitz
Mar 30 2016, 9:30pm

Foto di Manaure Quintero/EPA

The Colombian government and the country's second largest rebel group, the National Liberation Army, or ELN, are set to begin formal peace talks to end their involvement in the country's 51-year-long civil war.

Earlier today in Caracas, Venezuela, the Colombian government's negotiator Frank Pearl and rebel leader Antonio García announced that they would begin talks and set a six-point negotiating agenda aimed to end their conflict.

The announcement came on the heels of an ongoing peace negotiations between the government and Colombia's largest rebel group, the Revolutionary Armed Forces of Colombia, or FARC. The two sides were unable to meet a self-imposed deadline set for last week to sign a final peace accord in Havana, Cuba — where they have been in talks for over three years.

Still, there is hope that an agreement between the government and the FARC could come soon.

Iván Márquez, the Farc's negotiator, tweeted after the ELN announcement celebrating the news.

"Two tables one single process. ELN and FARC-EP with the people, together toward peace with social justice: a historic moment for Colombia."

Photo via Twitter

However, today's announcement does not necessarily mean peace will follow. This would be the third time the ELN has engaged in peace talks since its founding in 1964. Since then, at least 220,000 people have died and 6 million have been displaced, mostly Colombian civilians.

The upcoming talks will take place in Ecuador.

Related: Colombia's National Liberation Army Carries Out a Wave of Attacks

Follow Nathaniel Janowitz on Twitter: @ngjanowitz