The publication cite an interview with television channel Caracol, in which the head of state said that contact with the rebel group had already been made.
“There has been contact” admitted Santos, while indicating that “talks could begin soon.”
The head of state refused to be drawn on further details.
Whille the government have been negotiating with rebel group FARC since November 2012, the head of state has always maintained that the ELN’s inclusion in talks is dependent on their cessation of kidnapping.
The rebels however, refused to ban kidnapping insisting on unconditional peace talks with the government.
In late July however, the ELN agreed to find a negotiated settlement for the release of Jernoc Wobert, a Canadian miner who the group had been holding captive since January.
The group claimed that they were acting “in defence of national sovereignty and national resources,” insisting that Candian mining company Braeval return mining titles back to local communities prior to Wobert’s release.
Braeval have since abandoned mining activities in Colombia, citing “unfavourable markets,” while returning two of four mining titles to communities in the department of Bolivar, prompting the ELN’s offer of negotiation.
This gesture would appear to have convinced President Santos to begin dialogue with the rebel group, possibly integrating them into the current peace negotiations.
The FARC and the government have been involved in peace talks since November in order to seek a negotiated end to the internal conflict.
While an accord has been reached regarding land reform, no agreements have been made on the issue of the FARC’s political participation, drug trafficking, the practicalities of the end of the armed conflict and the rights of the victims.