‘It is very positive that talks with the ELN rebels have started in Colombia. Lasting, stable peace in Colombia will not be possible without a political solution that includes both left-wing rebel groups,’ said Foreign Minister Børge Brende. The Colombian Government and the guerrilla group ELN (Ejército de Liberación Nacional) announced today that they are working towards formal peace negotiations with the aim of ending the armed conflict in Colombia. The two parties, with assistance from Norway, Brazil, Chile, Cuba, Ecuador and Venezuela, have been taking part in confidential preliminary talks since January this year.The Colombian Government started formal negotiations with the country’s largest rebel group, FARC-EP (Fuerzas Armadas Revolucionarias de Colombia – Ejército del Pueblo), in Oslo in October 2012. ELN was formed in 1964, as was FARC-EP, and is the second largest armed rebel group in Colombia.
The conflict in Colombia has caused terrible suffering for the civilian population. Several hundred thousand people have been killed, and more than five million people are internally displaced as a result of the conflict.
‘Colombia now has a historic opportunity to achieve peace. Peace is crucial for development, and Norway is prepared to assist the Colombian people in their efforts to find a solution to the armed conflict,’ said Mr Brende.