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In Colombia Government and ELN begin fourth round of peace talks

The Colombian government and the National Liberation Army (ELN) -- the country's last active guerrilla group -- Wednesday began the fourth round of peace talks amid an historic ceasefire between the two.

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Colombia's chief negotiator Juan Camilo Restrepo (R) shakes hands with the ELN's Pablo Beltran (L) during the third round of talks, which concluded in September play

Colombia's chief negotiator Juan Camilo Restrepo (R) shakes hands with the ELN's Pablo Beltran (L) during the third round of talks, which concluded in September

(AFP)
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The Colombian government and the National Liberation Army (ELN) -- the country's last active guerrilla group -- Wednesday began the fourth round of peace talks amid an historic ceasefire between the two.

"The fourth round begins with good omens," said Ecuadorian diplomat Juan Meriguet in a statement released by the country's foreign ministry.

Meriguet attended the talks in Ecuador's capital Quito as a guarantor, along with representatives from Brazil, Cuba, Chile, Norway and Venezuela.

Concluding the third round of negotiations in September, both parties agreed for the first time to a ceasefire -- which began October 1 and will last until January.

The ceasefire is the biggest achievement of the talks, which began in February with the aim of ending over half a century of conflict.

"We hope that things will go as they have until now, with confidence and desire on both sides to achieve peace," Meriguet told AFP, before the talks began at an old Jesuit hacienda in the suburb of Sangolqui.

"As hosts and guarantors of these talks, we welcome peace talks and all of the efforts made towards peace in Colombia," he added.

The fourth round of talks were supposed to start earlier, but were delayed while delegates from FARC -- the political party which emerged following a peace agreement with the FARC guerilla group -- met with the ELN in Montecristi, on the Ecuadorian coast.

They pledged to create a "joint mechanism" to defend the peace process in Colombia.

The Colombian government is looking to reach an agreement with the ELN similar to that with the FARC before the end of Santos' term in August 2018.

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