Resumption of negotiations "will be next Monday, November 21, in the afternoon in the city of Caracas," reads a statement signed by both sides.

The new talks were announced in October and were due to be hosted by Venezuela, Cuba and Norway on a rotating basis.
The new talks were announced in October and were due to be hosted by Venezuela, Cuba and Norway on a rotating basis. (Reuters Archive)

Colombia's government and a delegation from the National Liberation Army (ELN) leftist guerrillas will resume peace talks suspended since 2019 starting on Monday in Caracas, the parties have announced.

The resumption of negotiations "will be next Monday, November 21, in the afternoon in the city of Caracas," read a statement on Friday posted to Twitter and signed by the Colombian High Commissioner for Peace, Danilo Rueda, and ELN peace delegation member Pablo Beltran.

Colombia has suffered more than half a century of armed conflict between the state and various groups of left-wing guerrillas, right-wing paramilitaries and drug traffickers.

President Gustavo Petro, who in August became Colombia's first-ever leftist leader, has vowed to take a less bellicose approach to seek an end to the violence wrought by armed groups.

The new talks were announced in October and were due to be hosted by Venezuela, Cuba and Norway on a rotating basis.

The ELN is the last recognised rebel group operating in Colombia, although FARC dissidents that refused to sign a 2016 peace deal remain active.

All arrest warrants for members of the rebel negotiating team, including possible extraditions, have been suspended, the attorney general's office said in a statement later on Thursday.

READ MORE: Venezuela agrees to help in Colombia-ELN peace talks

Six decades of conflict 

Previous attempts at negotiations with the ELN, which has some 2,400 combatants, have not advanced partly because of dissent within its ranks.

Initial talks between the ELN and the government of Juan Manuel Santos began in Ecuador, later moving to Cuba, but were called off in 2019 by Santos' successor Ivan Duque because the ELN refused to halt hostilities and killed 22 police cadets in a bombing.

Much of the ELN's negotiating team is older than many of its members and though rebel leadership has said the group is united, it is unclear how much sway negotiators hold over active units.

Petro has also promised to fully implement a 2016 peace deal with the now-demobilised Revolutionary Armed Forces of Colombia (FARC) rebels, as well as to seek the de-arming of crime gangs in exchange for reduced sentences and drug trafficking information.

Colombia's conflict, which has run for nearly six decades, killed 450,000 people between 1985 and 2018. 

READ MORE: Hundreds of human rights leaders killed in Colombia in 5 years - UN report

Source: AFP