Colombia rejects Venezuela as guarantor of peace talks with ELN rebels

NEW YORK (Reuters) - Colombia will not accept Venezuela as a guarantor of peace talks if it decides to continue negotiations with Marxist ELN guerrillas, President Ivan Duque said on Thursday, citing the neighboring country's alleged support for rebel activities. Duque, who has been visiting New York for the United Nations General Assembly, said in his inaugural address last month he would take 30 days to evaluate the talks, which began in 2017 under his predecessor. The deadline has passed without a definitive decision from the right-wing Colombian leader on whether they will continue

Reuters September 28, 2018 00:06:51 IST
Colombia rejects Venezuela as guarantor of peace talks with ELN rebels

Colombia rejects Venezuela as guarantor of peace talks with ELN rebels

NEW YORK (Reuters) - Colombia will not accept Venezuela as a guarantor of peace talks if it decides to continue negotiations with Marxist ELN guerrillas, President Ivan Duque said on Thursday, citing the neighboring country's alleged support for rebel activities.

Duque, who has been visiting New York for the United Nations General Assembly, said in his inaugural address last month he would take 30 days to evaluate the talks, which began in 2017 under his predecessor. The deadline has passed without a definitive decision from the right-wing Colombian leader on whether they will continue.

He has urged the 2,000-strong National Liberation Army (ELN) to free all hostages as a condition for resuming dialogue. The group has so far released nine, all members of the security forces or military contractors. A remaining 10 hostages are civilians.

Venezuela, Cuba, Chile, Brazil and Norway have served as so-called guarantors at negotiations with the ELN, which were being held in Cuba until just before Duque took office.

Guarantors are meant to be neutral facilitators of the talks, providing negotiating facilities and other help.

But Colombia's government and armed forces have long accused Venezuela of allowing rebel groups to cross into its territory freely and hide out there.

"A country that has supported the ELN in its territory, protecting it, which has allowed criminal acts against the Colombian people to be forged in its territory is far from being a guarantor," Duque told journalists before his return flight to Bogota.

"I can't see as a guarantor a country that has been a protector of armed groups in its territory."

Venezuela, which is reeling from a crushing economic and social crisis as thousands flee in search of scarce food and medicine, previously served as a guarantor in talks between the government and the Revolutionary Armed Forces of Colombia (FARC).

Those talks ended in a 2016 peace deal under which the FARC, once much larger than the ELN, demobilized and formed a political party.

Venezuela's leftist government and an ELN representative did not immediately respond to a request for comment on Duque's remarks.

(Reporting by Luis Jaime Acosta, additional reporting by Vivian Sequera; Writing by Julia Symmes Cobb; Editing by Tom Brown)

This story has not been edited by Firstpost staff and is generated by auto-feed.

Updated Date:

TAGS:

also read

France, Germany to agree to NATO role against Islamic State - sources
| Reuters
World

France, Germany to agree to NATO role against Islamic State - sources | Reuters

By Robin Emmott and John Irish | BRUSSELS/PARIS BRUSSELS/PARIS France and Germany will agree to a U.S. plan for NATO to take a bigger role in the fight against Islamic militants at a meeting with President Donald Trump on Thursday, but insist the move is purely symbolic, four senior European diplomats said.The decision to allow the North Atlantic Treaty Organization to join the coalition against Islamic State in Syria and Iraq follows weeks of pressure on the two allies, who are wary of NATO confronting Russia in Syria and of alienating Arab countries who see NATO as pushing a pro-Western agenda."NATO as an institution will join the coalition," said one senior diplomat involved in the discussions. "The question is whether this just a symbolic gesture to the United States

China's Xi says navy should become world class
| Reuters
World

China's Xi says navy should become world class | Reuters

BEIJING Chinese President Xi Jinping on Wednesday called for greater efforts to make the country's navy a world class one, strong in operations on, below and above the surface, as it steps up its ability to project power far from its shores.China's navy has taken an increasingly prominent role in recent months, with a rising star admiral taking command, its first aircraft carrier sailing around self-ruled Taiwan and a new aircraft carrier launched last month.With President Donald Trump promising a US shipbuilding spree and unnerving Beijing with his unpredictable approach on hot button issues including Taiwan and the South and East China Seas, China is pushing to narrow the gap with the U.S. Navy.Inspecting navy headquarters, Xi said the navy should "aim for the top ranks in the world", the Defence Ministry said in a statement about his visit."Building a strong and modern navy is an important mark of a top ranking global military," the ministry paraphrased Xi as saying.