Colombia 'Must Avoid Escalation' in Terror Attacks: Ecuador


Ecuador has called on the Colombian government and National Liberation Army (ELN) to continue the peace negotiations which stalled Wednesday when violent attacks breached the previously agreed ceasefire.

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In a statement released late Thursday, the Ecuadorean Foreign Ministry said the guarantor nations – including Brazil, Chile, Cuba, Venezuela and Norway – attested that "the two parties have expressed their willingness to overcome this moment and continue the conversations conducive to peace."

The statement went on to say that "Colombia deserves the peace that its people, the region and the international community crave," and ask both parties to start the fifth round of talks "with the urgency that the situation deserves."

"We urge that in this fifth cycle of the negotiation of a ceasefire, along with other issues on the agenda, be taken as a priority. We call on the parties to avoid an escalation that jeopardizes the progress made in the negotiation process and in the previous ceasefire."

On Wednesday, Colombian President Juan Manuel Santos recalled his chief negotiator, Gustavo Bell, from the talks in Quito, Ecuador’s capital, after accusing the ELN of resuming attacks.

Santos said on Twitter that the government was "always willing to extend the ceasefire," but the rebels had "inexplicably refused and today terrorist attacks resumed."

The ELN, however, also called for the peace talks to continue and insisted that the violence had occurred in a "complex situation."

"The incidents that happened earlier today in the east of the country occurred in a complex situation of conflict that Colombia has been going through," said the rebels on Wednesday.

"Despite these incidents, the negotiations should not be detained in a bid to find a political exit for the conflict."

Pablo Beltran, chief ELN negotiator in Quito, said the group had adhered to the conditions of the ceasefire and that the two sides had always agreed to evaluate new terms after the 101-day truce expired.

The Institute of Studies for Development and Peace (Indepaz) has reported that 170 community leaders were killed in 2017, primarily by paramilitary forces which infiltrated regions formerly populated by ELN militants.

In a recent study by Front Line Defenders, it was estimated that 30 percent of the human-rights defenders killed in 2017 were murdered in Colombia.


Latin America News


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