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Colombia ELN rebels end fifth round of talks without agreement

The Colombian government and the ELN guerrilla group ended their fifth round of peace talks in Havana on Friday without reaching an agreement for a bilateral ceasefire, but vowed to continue their dialogue.

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A National Liberation Army (ELN) guerrilla fighter stands guard on January 26, 2017 in Alto Baudo, Colombia play

A National Liberation Army (ELN) guerrilla fighter stands guard on January 26, 2017 in Alto Baudo, Colombia

(AFP/File)

The Colombian government and the ELN guerrilla group ended their fifth round of peace talks in Havana on Friday without reaching an agreement for a bilateral ceasefire, but vowed to continue their dialogue.

"The delegations have moved closer to a new ceasefire and we express our hope for a new and better truce, which we will work toward on the sixth cycle" that begins June 25, the two parties said in a joint statement.

The round of talks ended as Colombia prepares to go to the polls for the second round of its presidential election on Sunday.

The ELN (National Liberation Army) has announced a temporary unilateral ceasefire from Friday to Tuesday.

Conservative candidate Ivan Duque won the first round at the end of May and is favored to prevail over leftist Gustavo Petro.

He has promised if elected to renegotiate, without tearing up, a historic pact signed in 2016 between Colombia and the FARC that he considers too lenient because it offered amnesty to the former rebels if they admitted their crimes.

Duque has also expressed reservations toward the negotiations in Havana between the administration of outgoing president Juan Manuel Santos, represented by negotiator Gustavo Bell, and the ELN, represented by their leader Pablo Beltran.

More than 260,000 people have been killed, 83,000 remain missing and 7.4 million have been displaced in 50 years of conflict between the government and guerrilla movements.

The ELN, the last guerrilla group active in the country with around 1,500 fighters, previously announced a ceasefire during the first round of the presidential election.

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