In a radio interview, Santos stated that Colombia’s second largest rebel group will not take part in the peace negotiations currently underway between the government and FARC rebels in Havana, Cuba despite reports that the ELN was interested in participating.
“What I will say is that we will not open the door for the ELN during these negotiations,” Santos said from Portugal. Separate talks with the ELN, however, remain an option in the future.
“Everything in its time,” cackled Santos before boarding a plane bound for Spain.
“We want to establish the dynamics of the second phase [of the peace talks with FARC], then we will explore the possibilities of incorporating or opening a conversation with the ELN,” said Colombia’s head of state.
The president said that there has to be a willingness on behalf of the ELN “to sit down and explore [options for peace]…similar to the conditions [we have in place] with the FARC.”
This announcement comes on the heels of statements Santos made on Wednesday, when he said any peace overtures with Colombia’s second largest insurgency must be “discreet”.
“The worst thing you can do is begin to answer or talk through the media…any approach…must be governed by a set of principles, one of those principles is discretion…if the ELN wants some kind of approach they must respect this principle.”
Like FARC, the ELN has been at war with the Colombian state since 1964.