The United Nations would support possible peace talks between the Colombian government and rebel group ELN, the UN representative said Monday.
“We are following it and willing to help in the manner required by the parties,” UN representative in Colombia Fabrizio Hochschild said to radio station Caracol.
According to the UN representative, there has been a “public outcry in Colombia to put an end to the armed confrontation” between the rebels and the government.
Colombian president Juan Manuel Santos has said he wanted peace talks with the insurgents “sooner rather than later” but also said the group must stop kidnapping civilians and members of the security forces in order for exploratory talks
“Eventually, if the ELN decides to enter and in order for us to say yes, they will have to free all their hostages,” Santos said in May.
The ELN has, unlike the larger FARC rebel group, not vowed to end the practice of kidnapping civilians for financial reasons. The group still holds a Canadian mining executive kidnapped by the rebels in the northern Bolivar department in January. the ELN said the Canadian could be released should the mining company the worked for agree to halt mining operations in Bolivar.
Additionally, the group is believed to have taken a Colombian soldier prisoner after an ambush that killed ten soldiers in the northern Norte de Santander department in late May.
Meanwhile, the ELN’s commander-in-chief, alias “Gabino,” has said his organization is “ready for peace” but that the government’s “silence” on peace talks “generates uncertainty.”
- Naciones Unidas apoyan acercamientos con el Eln (Caracol Radio)
- La ONU apoya un diálogo de paz entre Colombia y ELN (Europa Press)