The Colombian government and Marxist rebels from the ELN – the National Liberation Army – have begun official peace talks, hosted by neighbouring Ecuador in the capital Quito.
Colombia’s second-largest rebel group hopes to seal an agreement similar to that negotiated last year with the FARC, which has been allowed to form a political party in exchange for surrendering weapons.
The ELN is considered a terrorist group by the US and the EU.
“To end the armed conflict requires for us to first acknowledge that political and social conflict will continue, and that the way to address it is through dialogue,” announced Pablo Beltran, the ELN’s delegation chief.
For more than half a century the ELN has carried out bombings, extortion and kidnappings.
It is still estimated to have up to 2,000 armed fighters and thousands more active supporters.