Colombia's ELN rebels must halt attacks, restart talks


Colombia's chief government negotiator in peace talks with the nation's last remaining rebel group said Thursday officials are still committed to reaching a new cease-fire agreement despite fresh guerrilla attacks that put a pause on the dialogue.

In southern Narino province, which concentrates the majority of coca leaf crops - the raw material that makes cocaine - there are hundreds of former members of the Revolutionary Armed Forces of Colombia (FARC) who decided not to adhere to the peace accord signed late in 2016.

12 de enero de 2018, 10:46Bogota, Jan 12 (Prensa Latina) Colombian President Juan Manuel Santos will activate the so-called Hercules Joint Task Force today in the southwestern department of Nariño, official sources confirmed in this capital.

"The different attacks perpetrated by the National Liberation Army in different parts of Colombia are unacceptable", the European Union said.

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The former guerrillas' presidential candidate told FARC media that Guterres' visit would allow him to "get to know the progress and debts of the implementation process on the ground".

"It is something that is not done miraculously, from one moment to another".

The United Nations Secretary General António Guterres has begun his first official visit to Colombia as the head of this worldwide organization.

"There is no justification for armed violence".

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President Santos thanked the Secretary-General for his visit and the continuing support of the United Nations and the UN Verification Mission in Colombia, which is now monitoring compliance with the agreements established in the peace agreement.

In a report to the UN Security Council in December, Guterres said that a significant number of FARC rebels "have joined illegal or dissident groups" as a result of a "growing frustration with the lack of opportunities" in civilian life.

"It is a process, we are the first to recognise the challenges that we are facing, the most important has to do with the issue of security in rural areas, which suffered so long in the armed conflict".

"There are imperfections, there are delays, but what was very clear to me is the total commitment of the government and the FARC to peace-building", said Guterres, who is Portuguese.

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The Secretary General's visit includes a meeting with President Juan Manuel Santos, as well as former senior commander of FARC, Rodrigo Londoño - best known by his wartime alias "Timochenko".