Spanish Prime Minister Pedro Sanchez, on his first tour of Latin America since taking office in June, on Thursday offered any necessary support to push forward a peace deal between Colombia and the ELN.
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Colombia’s new President Ivan Duque, who is evaluating whether to continue the peace talks, said in a joint news conference with Sanchez that he will happily consider Spain’s offer if the ELN stops all violence.
"Anything Colombia needs from Spain to consolidate and advance peace we will say yes to. We will be with our Colombian brothers so that this will be a reality sooner rather than later," Sanchez said.
Sanchez is on a four-nation trip that began on Monday in Chile, one of five guarantor nations at the talks with the ELN currently taking place in Cuba.
In his inaugural speech on August 7, right-wing Duque said he would review the negotiations, which began in February 2017, and make a decision within 30 days.
"If there’s a suspension of criminal activities, a will for peace, we very much welcome the offer that has been made by our good friend President Pedro Sanchez," Duque said.
In an interview on Thursday with Spanish news agency EFE, ELN leader Pablo Beltran said the group was grateful for Spain’s offer of help.
Colombia’s long conflict, which also involves right-wing paramilitaries and crime gangs, has killed some 260,000 people and displaced millions. Colombia signed a peace accord in late 2016 with the Revolutionary Armed Forces of Colombia (FARC).
Sanchez next travels to Costa Rica.