Colombia’s ELN guerrillas offered no concessions that could lead to a resumption of peace talks with the government after two days of talks with social leaders in Quito, Ecuador.
The commission of minority, women and labor organizations has been mediating between the government since last week after the breakdown of peace talks last month.
The social leaders, the Catholic Church and senior politicians are trying to convince the warring parties to resume negotiations to end more than half a century of armed conflict.
The ELN said it appreciated the leaders’ involvement and reiterated its call to resume talks. The rebel group, however, offered no concessions that would convince President Juan Manuel Santos to return his negotiation team to the Ecuadorean capital.
The ELN reiterated its willingness to formally and immediately begin the fifth cycle of talks, to try to find agreements that reduce the intensity of the conflict [and] agree on a new and better ceasefire.
In fact, Santos said Sunday that “it will be difficult to resume talks” amid ongoing attacks by the guerrillas.
Santos has been adamant in his demand guerrilla violence must be reduced before any negotiations can be resumed.
The guerrillas refuse and hold the government responsible for a wave of assassinations of social leaders that followed a peace deal with the FARC, the Marxist group that demobilized last year.
The talks are complicated by a lack of confidence between the parties and upcoming votes to elect a new president and congress.
Guerrilla and government representatives began formal talks in Quito in February last year, two and a half years after they were announced.
The rebels have accused the military of colluding with the AGC, a paramilitary organization that is four times the size of the ELN that has been combating the guerrillas in western Colombia.
The talks would seek a negotiated end to an armed conflict that began in 1964 already.