Peace talks at risk after ELN attack on Colombian military

Santos also said the government was “always willing to extend the ceasefire” with the major rebel military group but that they had “inexplicably refused.”

He noted Colombian President Juan Manuel Santos has recognized "the need for access to land ownership as a major incentive for reintegration" for FARC members.

UN Secretary-General Antonio Guterres will travel to Colombia at the weekend as peace efforts in the South American country come under strain from fresh ELN attacks and a faltering drive to reintegrate FARC rebels.

The recent attacks threaten to end the peace negotiations between the group and the government.

Peace talks taking place taking place between the Colombian government and the last remaining armed rebel group in the country, the National Liberation Army (ELN) in Quito, Ecuador, were broken off by Bogota Wednesday in response to ELN attacks as the existing ceasefire between the two parties, which went into effect on October 1, expired.

"The national government deplores the ELN's decision to resume its terrorist attacks against the civilian population, the armed forces and infrastructure", Santos said in a broadcast.

Guterres' visit on Saturday and Sunday is to "support peace efforts" in Colombia, UN spokesman Stephane Dujarric said.

The three-month cease-fire between the army and the ELN ended on Tuesday.

United Nations spokesman Stephane Dujarric said Guterres will meet with Santos and other civilian and military officials from the government Saturday and will hold talks with leaders of the FARC, the Roman Catholic Church, civic groups and the United Nations mission. Colombian Vice-President Oscar Naranjo Trujillo, speaking to the UN Security Council, promised: "The government is not walking away from peace".

The ELN has accused the military of colluding with the AGC, a paramilitary group that has been combating the guerrillas in western Colombia. But peace is reached with will and concrete facts of peace.

He said Wednesday's attacks occurred in "complex situations" of war and that the group maintained its intention to negotiate a new ceasefire.

After the signing of the Peace Agreement in Colombia in November 2016, after some four years of talks in the Cuban capital, the United Nations Security Council approved a mission to verify the ceasefire and the delivery of weapons. The ceasefire did not continue as reports say the rebels want a new deal with the government.



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