Colombian government, ELN agree to deescalate fighting

Source: Xinhua| 2017-04-07 06:02:05|Editor: Mu Xuequan
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QUITO, April 6 (Xinhua) -- Colombia's government and National Liberation Army (ELN) guerrillas on Thursday announced they have agreed to deescalate fighting.

To "protect non-combatants and the civilian population from the effects of the armed conflict," both sides agreed to "decrease the intensity of the fighting," according to a joint statement.

The statement was issued in Quito, Ecuador, where negotiators for the government and rebel group concluded the first round of peace talks aimed at ending five decades of fighting.

Negotiators will take a month-long break and resume talks on May 3.

"In the next round, we will work on a process to develop a pilot program for humanitarian demining," they said.

At a press conference, Juan Camilo Restrepo, chief negotiator for the government, said "international humanitarian rights are ... the beacon that will guide the efforts of this negotiating table."

Talks with the ELN, Colombia's second-largest guerrilla group, began in early February, not long after the administration of President Juan Manuel Santos signed a definitive peace deal with the country's largest rebel group, the Revolutionary Armed Forces of Colombia (FARC), following four years of negotiations.

The FARC are currently in the process of transitioning from an armed group to a political movement, but there have been hiccups in the process, due to continued violence from paramilitary groups, and a lack of preparation and funding on the part of the government.