BOGOTA, Feb. 2 (Xinhua) -- Colombian President Juan Manuel Santos said on Thursday that his government would soon begin peace talks with the National Liberation Army (ELN) after the rebel group released former congressman Odin Sanchez, a hostage held since last April.
"Next Tuesday, (Feb. 7) in Quito, the public phase of conversations will begin between the Colombian government and the ELN, the last guerrilla of Colombia and the continent, which will allow us to reach complete peace," Santos said in his opening address at the 16th World Summit of Nobel Peace Laureates in Bogota.
Sanchez was freed in the early hours of Thursday in exchange for two jailed ELN members who were also released on the same day.
The exchange paved the way for starting delayed peace talks between the government and the leftist rebel group, which were due to begin last October but collapsed when the rebels refused to release Sanchez.
The ELN, which took up arms in 1964, has around 1,500 fighters, according to government figures.
Last year, the government signed a peace accord with the country's largest rebel group, the Revolutionary Armed Forces of Colombia (FARC).